UCI's Tour of Beijing under threat as teams threaten boycott over radio ban
AIGCP demands that proposals to phase out two-way radios be withdrawn by 1st May
The inaugural edition of the Tour of Beijing, a flagship event announced by the UCI last year and the only race on the calendar that the governing body also promotes, is under threat as the row over the its insistence on pressing ahead with its phased ban on race radios continues to escalate.
The team managers’ association, the AIGCP (Association International de Groupes Cyclistes Professionnels), has revealed that all professional teams it represents have signed an agreement that should the ban on two-way radios not be revoked by 1 May, they will pull out of the race, scheduled to be held from 5-9 October.
That follows an invitation being withdrawn yesterday from the AIGCP and the professional cyclists’ association, the CPA, to take part in a meeting today of the CCP (Conseil Professionnel du Cyclisme) meeting.
The UCI says that banning two-way communication by radio between team management and their riders during races would make for more spontaneous and exciting racing. The managers and riders insist that the radios are essential for safety, and that it is pointless trying to turn back the clock on technology.
However, the argument is not solely about the radio ban, but also the perception by the AIGCP that there is too little consultation with teams, as well as riders and sponsors, in major decisions affecting the sport.
In a statement, the AIGCP, which is chaired by Garmin-Cervélo’s Jonathan Vaughters, said: “One of our desires is to help improve the governance of cycling. We cannot be effective in this when we are not allowed to participate in these meetings. Being invited and then removed, in a matter of days, from these meetings, depending on the whim of UCI management is unacceptable. To be clear, the teams remain unified in their stance on the radio issue. Cycling is a team sport and as such, communication is key for the athletes and the coaches. We continue to hope - and push - for an amicable resolution to this issue.
“However, if the use of radios in all professional cycling events is not permitted by May 1st, all of the teams have signed an accord that simply states that we will not participate in the Tour of Beijing, which is the only event in professional cycling that the UCI not only governs, but also promotes. This way we avoid actions that could be damaging for any race organizer that does not have any say or vote in the governance or regulation of the sport or any race that is part of cycling's rich history.”
The statement concluded: “Our objective in this action is to ensure that the people that actively work in field of professional cycling also have a vote in its regulation. Fair, logical, and agreed upon regulations are our goal. We hope the UCI will become our partner in achieving this objective.”
Recently, the CPA, which is chaired by Italian legend Gianni Bugno, said that it plans to take strike action at three races planned for the weekend after next in Belgium, France and Italy should the UCI continue to press ahead with its plans.