Cédric Vasseur has questioned the motive of team managers' opposition to a race radios ban in two stages of the Tour de France. The French Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) chief backs the race organiser's decision to run Tuesday- and Friday's stages without radio communication between cyclists and team directors.
"What amazes me is that most of the managers say their opposition is for the safety of the riders," Vasseur told Cyclingnews yesterday. “None of those managers ever spoke up for the safety of the riders when they raced on dangerous courses at the Giro or some races in Belgium.”
Last month the International Cycling Union (UCI) backed a decision by Tour organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) to run two stages of its race without radios. But managers of the 20 tour teams have expressed their dissatisfaction with the decision since the race commenced on July 4. Astana's Johan Bruyneel is heading a petition against the ban that has 14 team managers' signatures, according to reports.
Tour organisers followed the lead of the French Championships and GP Plouay with the trial radio ban. They want to restore riders' instinct and cut off direct communication from managers, who receive constant time checks from race officials and in-car televisions.
"[ASO] want to allow for a more exciting scenario, which we end up with TV viewers and more money coming into cycling,” said the company. “In football, players will play at 9PM, but they don't complain because they get money. They have to learn to make concessions to make a better show; this will bring people and grow cycling."
Race radios come into use in the late 1990s. Today almost all riders use the two-way radios.
"In the past we have had these big escapes that make the fans dream,” said Vasseur. “It is fabulous to see someone to take 20 minutes, keep about two minutes on the finish line - he becomes a hero."
Vasseur raced professionally from 1993 to 2007 and won two stages of the Tour de France. In 1997 he escaped and won with enough time to take the race leader's maillot jaune, which he kept for five days.
"If the radio was in the bunch I would have never won my stage and taken the yellow jersey,” he said. “I took 20 minutes, I succeeded in keeping two minutes in the final because the information was being relayed slower."
Vasseur believes a similar scenario Tuesday or Friday's stages could sway opinion on racing without radios. However he fears that riders may be obliged to use race radios if their managers oppose the ban.