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Riders to meet with McQuaid on radio ban this week

Several WorldTour riders said they plan to meet with UCI president Pat McQuaid this week at the Tour of Oman to discuss the radio ban.

2011 Tour of Qatar, stage 2, race leader Tom Boonen
Boonen in Qatar last week

DOHA, Qatar (VN) — Several WorldTour riders said they plan to meet with UCI president Pat McQuaid this week at the Tour of Oman to discuss the radio ban.

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) each mentioned the upcoming meeting in conversations with VeloNews at the Tour of Qatar last week.

“We will try to talk to Pat McQauid about it,” said Boonen. “Afterall it’s all about us and our safety —  it’s not about the safety of the UCI, it’s our safety … we will give him our point of view and hopefully he will listen to us.”

UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told VeloNews on Monday that McQuaid expects to meet with riders in Oman, but no formal meeting is planned. “No official meeting is planned: he will certainly meet riders and other people, but no output will be given out following those talks,” Carpani said.

Riders held a protest at the Tour of Mallorca last week, and rode the event’s first day with radios in defiance of the rules. However, the UCI said results of the event, won by Tyler Farrar, would be nullified.

The same day in Qatar, prologue winner Lars Boom said he expected a protest at the start of stage 1, but the protest did not materialize. He later told VeloNews that his team director suggested there were better ways for riders to oppose the radio ban.

Boonen said a protest would only have harmed the race.

“Protest doesn’t work; we know that already from lots of years,” he said. “It’s stupid to have an organization (the Tour of Qatar) that puts in a lot of money and (a protest) hurts them for something the UCI decides. I think there should be more dialogue between the riders and the UCI especially about stuff like this about safety.”

Cancellara said decisions about things like the radio ban should be made more democratically. “I did not get a vote, (riders) did not get a vote but it we who are affected by this. If they are going to do something like that they should be listening to the majority. I don’t know who made this decision, or why, but it was not a majority,” he said.

Boonen and Cancellara each said that the racing at Qatar was not noticeably much different because of the ban.

“No, it’s the same,” Boone said. “I think it’s stupid that the UCI bothers to think about stuff like this. The only thing (a radio) helps is if there is something on the road, something dangerous. Yeah, it helps us to get the time gaps a little bit more fast but what is the difference, maybe ten seconds? Because the moto (with a blackboard showing time gaps) arrives in ten seconds …  so it doesn’t change the race. There is no use going back in time.”