Rabobank is unhappy with the decision by the International Cycling Union (UCI) to do away with the race radio. The riders emphasise that the radios are necessary for their own safety, and Jos van Emden claimed that without race radios, Pedro Horrillo might never have been found after his horrendous crash in the 2009 Giro d'Italia.
The Spaniard fell 60 metres down a ravine on the eighth stage of the Giro, and suffered multiple injuries, including fractures to his upper leg, knee, vertebrae, and ribs, as well as puncturing both lungs.
Fortunately for him, his bike stayed on the road, and teammate van Emden noticed it.
Both he and Horrillo had fallen off the back of the peloton, with the Spaniard ahead of the Dutchman. “In the descent I suddenly saw a bicycle. That was reasonable. At first I thought, 'another tourist who has left his bike and forgotten it,' but in a flash I saw it was a Giant and I recognised the identification tag as being Pedro's.”
Van Emden continued, on the team website, “There was nobody else around and there was nothing behind the guard rail. In a reflex I called out over the radio that Pedro had probably fallen into the ravine.”
The rescue action was started immediately, but van Emden was very shaken. “You realise suddenly that there might be a teammate dying. That was scary and ultimately touch-and-go. Pedro almost certainly owes his life to the race radio. So if you save the life of a man, the debate of abandoning it seems pretty absurd.”
Van Emden said he couldn't imagine riding without race radios. “There are so many dangerous moments I the race where the communication is a very important aspect. Warnings for hazardous passages, crashes, road diversions, falling rock in the mountains or an ambulance for the peloton. In almost every race we have something in which the radio is indispensable.”