The controversial plan to ban race radios in professional cycling has moved to the next stage, with the International Cycling Union (UCI) informing national federations this week that the next phase of their elimination has begun.
A letter was issued to the federations yesterday and outlined the changes applying to Elite men and women in 2010.
“The ban will be gradually introduced in accordance with a timetable, the first stage of which will be: 2010 season: ban for Men Elite and Women Elite Class 2 events of the UCI international calendar, events of the national calendar as well as the UCI World Championships,” it read.
“We are therefore asking you to take the necessary steps so that you can implement this measure of ban at all national races registered on the national calendar of your Federation.”
A ban is already in place for the junior and under-23 categories. A trial removal was held during last year’s Tour de France, with stages ten and thirteen designated as radio-free days. The majority of the teams signed a petition protesting against the measure, and the first of the stages was marked by a pronounced go-slow. Riders were ultimately allowed to use the radio for stage 13, but were told that the ban would come in at a later date.
Resistance has remained to the idea of competing without radios, with many making the argument that the devices increase awareness of problems such as poor road surfaces and thus aid rider safety. However other professionals have countered that that such warnings lead to an increase in speed and jostling as riders try to move forward in the peloton, causing other dangers.
The UCI’s aim is to make racing more intuitive and less predictable, putting the onus on riders rather than their team directors to decide tactics.
Despite the resistance shown during the Tour de France, it claims that there is broad support for the plans. “This decision has been taken on the basis of a very careful study, in particular taking into account the will of the majority of those involved in cycling,” the UCI said in the statement.
It remains to be seen if there will be further protests, or if the gradual introduction of the ban will have the desired effect.
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