A new online communication system has been launched by the Professional Riders Association (CPA) at the Giro d'Italia with the aim of both strengthening and protecting riders' rights to have their voice heard on racing issues.
The CPA believes that thanks to this new on-line communication system, riders' opinions about such questions as Extreme Weather Condition protocol and its use during races, for example, or on questions such as disc brakes or rider safety, will be heard more effectively and in a much more united way.
At the same time, the communication system is designed to allow information provided by the CPA and race organisers to reach the riders more quickly.
The online communication system, known as CPAOCS, was created by Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal), who for many years worked and studied as a computer programmer, specializing in on-line database applications, before turning pro.
Hansen has just become the CPA's Australian delegate and he gave the media a presentation of the CPAOCS during the Giro d'Italia's rest day on Monday and it will become operational during the race.
"What we found was that the CPA does a lot of work for the riders and this helps riders see the kinds of problems the CPA is fighting against," Hansen told Cyclingnews.
"For example, if there's a dangerous team time trial or bad weather on a race, the CPA race delegate will be able to submit a question for riders to answer. It's anonymous and goes directly to riders' emails. So it doesn't create extra work for them, it's very simple, they read the question, click 'yes' or 'no' or whatever option is possible depending on what the question is about. That gets submitted and the CPA race delegate can present that combined series of votes and comments to the UCI and race organiser.
"That's hard evidence of the true voice of the peloton. In the past the CPA delegate would run around the team buses and try and speak to as many riders as he could. This was a bit of a disaster because it was too big a job, and also because sometimes it's too hard to get an accurate answer from a rider when his sports director is standing right behind him."
The idea of anonymity in the survey, as Hansen sees it, is crucial because it protects that rider's right to express himself freely. "You can say what you want to without your sports director seeing who's saying it, without your colleagues seeing that, without the race organisers or UCI seeing that. It'll give the CPA delegate the opportunity to fight for the riders and truly do what the riders want."
There are also areas within the system where documents can be uploaded, so all the race communiqués, maps and so on can be provided to riders more quickly, as well as for voting systems by country delegates and rider associations. As Hansen says, "We want to make it as easy as possible for the riders and for the CPA associations and delegates to do their job."
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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