The former president of the international association of professional cyclists CPA, Cédric Vasseur, has reacted to the ongoing discussions regarding the suppression of race radios. While he has spoken out neither in favour nor against the new measure affecting all Category 1 and HC events this year, the Frenchman did criticise the current resistance of the peloton towards accepting the measure.
After the ban was introduced at the beginning of the 2011 season, team directors and riders complained that the International Cycling Union (UCI) had not included them sufficiently in the decision-making process and demonstrated their disapproval at several race starts. Vasseur disagreed with this approach, pointing out that the riders had every opportunity to protest against the decision during his time at the head of the CPA (2007-2009), when the race radio ban was being discussed at the UCI.
"During my mandate [...] we set up anonymous polls amongst the 865 pro riders of the ProTour and Pro Continental teams," Vasseur told Cyclingews on Friday. "In 2008 and 2009, every one of them received a poll, two times, asking them whether they were for a against the race radio ban. Of the 865 riders, about 200 responded in 2008, and 250 in 2009, and the result each time was a percentage of about 50/50.
"I am surprised to note that a great part of those who are crying out for scandal today decided not to respond to our call. I think that if the majority of them would have expressed their disapproval of the suppression at that time, the UCI would have perhaps not continued its work on the issue."
With the riders that did express their opinion being so evenly divided on the ban, one can call into question the true reasons for its non-acceptance in the peloton. "A great majority of the team managers were against the decision [to ban race radios - ed.] and I am not surprised to see them continue in this sense," said Vasseur. "The question today is simple: should we leave a share of chance in the unfolding of our competitions, privileging the spectacle, or do we think, taking into account the economic stakes, that it is unacceptable to lose a race because information did not flow in real time?"
To Vasseur, the security argument was not valid. "It's true that race radio is a necessary tool to pass on information during the race, but I don't agree with everyone constantly putting forward the safety side. With or without the earpieces, there will always be crashes in a peloton as race radios don't prevent them from happening. To the contrary, the multiplication of road furniture demands constant concentration and vigilance from the riders," he continued.
Finally, Vasseur pointed out that he disagreed with the way the peloton was reacting to the new rule, protesting at races and, in his view, deteriorating the image of cycling even further. "The stance of protest used by the riders at the Mallorca Challenge is definitely not the solution," the Frenchman added. "Cycling already suffers from its negative image on all levels, and cannot allow itself further strikes that will only harm its credibility more."