USA Cycling backs down on allowing two-way radios in face of UCI opposition

Only North American races with radios this year will be Canada's two World Calendar events

by Simon_MacMichael   March 23, 2011  

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USA Cycling, the sport’s governing body in the United States, has backed down on plans to allow two-way radios to be used in all races falling under its remit in the face of opposition from the UCI, which insists they must be banned in National Racing Calendar events in the USA, as well as in the country’s National Championships.

In a statement published on its website, USA Cycling President Bill Peterson said: "After consultation with the UCI, it is apparent that allowing race radios in domestic NRC races would negatively impact the UCI registered teams and riders who would no longer be allowed to compete in these events.

“The absence of UCI registered teams and riders would have a highly detrimental impact, not only on the team sponsors, but also on the hard working NRC promoters and the sponsors and communities who support these races,” he explained.

USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson added: "While we remain convinced of the value of race radios with regard to their potential for increased safety for riders and spectators, we will respect the UCI's request to continue the ban of race radios in national calendar races and national championships."

The about-turn means that the only races in North America this year that will see riders permitted to use two-way radios to communicate with team management will be the two Canadian UCI World Calendar races that debuted last autumn, the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal.

Last week, UCI President Pat McQuaid revealed that one of the reasons behind the phased ban on two-way radios, which has put the governing body in conflict with bodies representing teams and riders, was an insistence by broadcasters led by France Télévisions that they be outlawed.

The UCI insists that removing two-way communication would lead to more spontaneous and exciting racing, instead of the familiar sight in races such as the Tour de France of a breakaway being caught in the closing kilometres of a stage, with pursuing riders able to calculate exactly how hard they need to ride to catch the escapees.