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UCI to meet with teams’ association Thursday to hash out radio ban

UCI president Pat McQuaid will meet with representatives from the professional teams association Thursday to discuss the race radio ban, the association announced Tuesday.

UCI president Pat McQuaid will meet with representatives from the professional teams association Thursday to discuss the race radio ban, the association announced Tuesday.

European reports say McQuaid will meet with Saxo Bank-Sungard chief Bjarne Riis and others.

“We hope that Thursday’s meeting will bring about a compromise that suits all parties and is a catalyst to more productive discussion between the UCI and teams regarding all future legislation in the professional arm of cycling,” a statement from AIGCP president Jonathan Vaughters said.

“We want to make it clear that the radios are only the most topical issue for the AIGCP, but certainly not the most important. Issues that range from equipment regulations to anti-doping are all of great interest to the teams, and we are equally interested in making our point of view heard on these issues, just as the radios,” the statement continued.

The group says teams collectively represent more than $400 million in annual revenue and employ more than 3,000 people. “We are the largest stakeholder in professional cycling and therefore should have a concrete vote on any and all legislation that affects our workplace … Simply put, we hope the UCI will grant us an active role in the governance of the sport we work in.”

The UCI’s decision to phase out ear pieces began quietly last year, with a ban at U23 and women’s races as well as all 1.2 and 2.2. This year, the ban is hitting the pros directly at events such as Ruta del Sol (2.1) and the Omloop Het Nieuwslad (1.HC). Next year, the ban would extend to all professional cycling events, including races on the World Calendar such as the grand tours and spring classics.

The pro teams organized a protest at the first race of the five-day Mallorca Challenge in early February in an effort to demonstrate their opposition to the ban in what was one of the first top-level European events of the year. However, the UCI has quashed further talk of protests, saying it would pull its officials from a race if riders insisted on using the ear pieces in protest. The AIGCP said it planned no further protests, although some riders have called for boycotts.