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At least one team is breaking rank with the peloton this weekend and will sit out any protest of the UCI ban on race radios. BMC Racing general manager Jim Ochowicz said in a release Thursday that his team would not take part in any demonstration planned for the opening weekend of the spring classics in Flanders, Belgium.
“However, we immediately call upon the UCI to sit down in good faith with the appropriate partners to work out a compromise that is in the best interests of all concerned,” said Ochowicz.
Race radio protests have marked a number of non-World Tour events this season. The opening cobbled semi-classics, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad are both on the UCI Europe Tour calendar and subject to the federation’s ban on race radios. Ochowicz was the owner and general manager at Motorola when the team introduced two-way communication to the peloton in 1991.
“Prior to that, team directors were forced to drive their cars directly into the peloton, roll down their windows and shout out instructions to the riders,” said Ochowicz. “This could happen anywhere from the very front to the very back of peloton throughout a race. Most of today’s riders and team directors never had to experience those horrifying days in the races. I did, and they were most certainly not safe situations.”
While Ochowicz said that his riders would not protest the ban, which the UCI expanded ahead of the 2011 season, he did reiterate that radios should be a part of professional racing.
“Technology has contributed in many ways to the advancement of the sport — from carbon fiber frames, performance data collection, untraditional products and race radios,” Ochowicz said. “Race radios belong in the sport to provide safety and communications.”
The BMC Racing team will start both of the early season Flandrian one-day races on tap this weekend, led by Marcus Burghardt, Karsten Kroon and Greg Van Avermaet.