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Riis, Voigt and Devolder against Tour radio ban

By:
Richard Moore
Published:
July 02, 2009, 15:40 BST,
Updated:
July 02, 2009, 17:19 BST
Edition:
Latest Edition Cycling News, Thursday, July 2, 2009
Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) is against the Tour radio experiment

Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) is against the Tour radio experiment

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Rider safety and security questioned

The decision of the Tour de France to ban race radios for two stages has been heavily criticised by Stijn Devolder of QuickStep and Jens
Voigt of Saxo Bank, with Voigt’s manager, Bjarne Riis, also weighing in with some strong words against the experiment.

 All three highlighted their concerns over safety and security, joining a chorus of voices against the ban, which is due to be enforced during stages ten and thirteen. The Tour organisers, ASO, say that it is because they want to encourage more spontaneous, less predictable racing.

 “If you were to ask Formula One teams to turn off their radios, they’d say, ‘Excuse me, are you serious?’” said an indignant Voigt. “The radios provide information and security for us, so I think it’s a bad idea [that they’re banned].”

 “It’s a huge risk by the Tour,” said Riis. “Our sponsors pay a lot of money to help us try to win the Tour. But if Andy or Frank [Schleck] crashes, if something happens and we cannot get to our riders, or we don’t know if something’s happened, that would be a scandal.”

 In other words, Riis believes that the Tour could be lost – or won – on one of the two radio-free days, simply through the teams being
unable to communicate with their riders. Rather than issuing information and instructions on the radio, said Riis, “We’ll have to drive up to the peloton to speak to our riders, which is dangerous. [If there are accidents] it’s not going to be funny. We can only pray that doesn’t happen.”

 “What will they say next – two days without helmets, just to make it more interesting?” said Voigt. “Or two days without cables in our
brakes?”

Devolder also spoke out against the ban, though the Belgian did admit that the move would prompt “a different kind of racing, with a different result, I think.”

 He added: “For everybody, and for safety reasons, I think it’s better with radios.”

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