European federations support UCI over two-way radio ban

Backing comes ahead of rider strikes planned for later this month

by Simon_MacMichael   March 14, 2011  

UCI logo on white

Battle lines are continuing to be drawn in the ongoing row over the UCI’s decision to press on with its ban on two-way radios during races, with the European Cycling Union (EUC), which unites the continent’s national cycling federations, perhaps unsurprisingly coming out in support of the governing body.

That backing is firmly at odds with the stance adopted by team managers through their organisation, the International Association of Professional Cycling Groups (AIGCP), as well as the riders themselves, represented by the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA).

As reported on last week, the latter, chaired by Italian legend Gianni Bugno, is threatening strike action at three races in Belgium, France and Italy the weekend after next.

Part of the opposition to the ban is on safety grounds, highlighted during Saturday’s crash-strewn stage of Paris-Nice. As a World Calendar event, radios were allowed on that race, enabling team cars to quickly come to the aid of stricken riders.

In view of that opposition, the world governing body has made a point of highlighting the support it has received from the EUC, which followed a speech given to its members by UCI President Pat McQuaid at the UEC’s annual general meeting in Slovenia last week.

In a statement on its website, the UCI said: “This stance is very important in the current situation, as it clearly confirms the leanings of those representing the federations of all European countries, among which figure some of the world’s principal cycling movements.

“The UCI is therefore happy to learn of the UEC’s solidarity, which demonstrates that it shares its vision of cycling’s fundamental values and of the measures to be taken to protect them.

“In reasserting its determination to oppose any menaces or demonstrations that this rule may engender – strikes by riders or even boycotts of races by teams - the UCI remains confident in each and everyone’s sense of responsibility to ensure that the interests of the sport can override the controversies and conflicts of power.”

7 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

B*gger - just spent 10 minutes typing out my thoughts on this can't be bothered to do all that again.

How about a race commissaire or assistant with a one way transmitter to all riders giving out live warnings of traffic hazards? As for riders in trouble how about a non verbal transmiiter for each rider to his DS? Red button for mechanical, blue for needing drink/food from car. Simple display in DS car that shows who needs what. No way for DS to give instructions other than for a rider dropping to the car.

Seems simple enough. Mind you it would be a nightmare to keep an eye on and maybe another avenue for riders/teams to be accused of cheating.

bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [471 posts]
14th March 2011 - 13:32

1 Like

There's enough TV coverage for information regarding any crashes to be radio'd back to the controllers to take appropriate action.
Saturday's Paris-Nice crashes would have happened regardless of radios so it is only the reporting of incidents that is the priority.

Perhaps the governing bodies should demonstrate how they would deal with an emergency situation to put riders & teams minds at rest.

It never used to be a problem, and made the racing more interesting.


Marky Legs's picture

posted by Marky Legs [124 posts]
14th March 2011 - 13:40

1 Like

The problem is Marky that I think the safety issue is simply a red herring put out by the teams. While I am sure riders do like the safety aspect that afford, in reality I think their real concern is for information and instructions out on the road.

bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [471 posts]
14th March 2011 - 21:21


The teams and ASO should just split from UCI as they threatened to do before. As I understand it, the biggest sanction that the UCI could impose as the IOC recognised ruling body, would be stopping riders competing in the Olympics. Not a problem for most, I would imagine; Tour de France/Paris-Roubaix/Tour of Flanders/Milan-San Remo win etc versus Olympic road race win, is a no-brainer for anyone with a knowledge of cycling's history.
Bloody bureaucrats!

posted by pwake [358 posts]
15th March 2011 - 5:11

1 Like

Tricky one, this. I generally think the UCI meddles far too much in the sport - e.g. the imposition of an approval sticker, and the even more random interpretation and re-interpretation of the bike design and set up rules which resulted in the 'need' for the sticker. I'm coming to think that, as pwake suggests, the top teams should just take themselves outside of the UCI's game, and work with race organisers to run the sport themselves.

But then I also think 2 other things:

1. They would still end up with a governing body, as someone would need to be in charge of applying the rules, co-ordinating national federations etc. That body would end up looking a lot like the UCI, and would quite likely suffer from the same issues of struggling to get buy-in for certain rules and regs;

2. I reckon the UCI is right on this one. I agree with all the comments that some form of one-way or limited 2-way 'safety' radio is a good idea, but I do think it will make the sport more exciting to have the riders deciding on tactics for themselves (and therefore having the bunch getting things wrong more often, breaks staying away or coming back too early and other breaks launching). The uncertainty is what keeps it exciting, and it is what gives the master tacticians a chance against the super-strong riders.

So, all in, I think the teams and riders should pick their battles with the UCI - come to a sensible compromise on radios, and then kick harder on issues like the approval stickers, and the fact that national federations seem to be able to come to their own conclusions about what constitutes a doping offence for their own favourite riders. But maybe that last one is for another discussion...

posted by step-hent [714 posts]
15th March 2011 - 12:18

1 Like

Has anyone analysed the finish data from the big races over the last, say, 40 years, to see if the advent of race radio has had a big impact on the percentage of breakaway wins? I'm interested because most people arguing for the ban are saying that radios have had a negative impact on breakaways, and I can understand why you'd assume that was the case. But I've never seen any hard evidence to back that assumption up. And I don't have time to do the data mining Smile

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7805 posts]
15th March 2011 - 12:26

1 Like

I don't buy the breakaway argument. Blackboards with time gaps on them have been around for ages.

My idea is that race radios enable faster but stupider cyclists to win over smarter but slower cyclists who might otherwise outwit them. You don't need a brain on the bike, because the brain in the team car is doing the thinking, and the cyclist on the road is a piece of remote controlled meat.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1425 posts]
15th March 2011 - 13:33

1 Like