Experiment was fun, but can I have my radio back now, please?
Jens Voigt, a veteran of twelve Tours de France and former stage winner in the race had mixed feelings on the race radio ban during today’s stage ten, from Limoges to Issoudun.
The 37-year-old German has seen the transition of race radio into the sport during his long career and although he enjoyed today’s experiment, felt that it nullified racing during the stage.
The stage had been dominated by a break of four riders, who were no threat on general classification, escaping the clutches of the bunch and building a slender lead of less than three minutes. However, with no race radios, teams and riders were unable to communicate through normal channels. The information slowdown saw the peloton averaging 37km/h in the first three hours of racing.
"I wasn’t worried about the lack of communication with the team cars. We just took it a bit easier. Really, honestly, the racing is a lot harder with a director yelling in your ear. Without radios everyone seemed to be a lot mellower and we had a time to talk. It was one of the best Tour de France stages I’ve ever raced," Voigt said.
However Voigt believed that radios shouldn’t be banned on a permanent basis: "There was still an insecure feeling in the bunch. Today we had Arvesen crash [ed - the rider was later taken to hospital with a suspected broken collarbone] and it took us ten minutes to find out that he’d fallen.We were all at the front so had to rely on a rider from a rider on another team to tell us so we had to go back and help him. We had no idea he’d crashed, if he was okay or even where he was."
The riders may face another radio blackout on Friday’s stage to Le Grand Bornard, however Voigt wants what he calls an ‘experiment’ to stop now. "I’m not sure about Friday, as it’s a much harder stage. It’s a nice experiment but let's leave it like that."
Voigt did draw one more conclusion from the day – that the spectacle of racing had been harmed: "The racing was far less exciting, we were slower and for the spectators that’s less fun. The riders were scared to make a mistake so they ended up doing nothing."
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