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Rabobank to ignore radio silence at Het Nieuwsblad

A split looms in the peloton for Saturday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with several teams planning to protest the UCI's radio communications ban, according to Dutch television station NOS.

UCI president Pat McQuaid has reacted angrily to the news, saying that if teams attempt to use radios, the Belgian race will be cancelled and the results will be null and void, much like the first race of the Challenge Mallorca series earlier this month.

"If that happens then there is no race," McQuaid told NOS Sport. "Then we will withdraw our backing and the riders will not be insured."

The UCI began the roll out of the ban last year in 1.2 and 2.2 level races (including all U23 races and women's stage races), and has been extended in 2011 to cover all races ranked 1.HC/2.HC and below, and will continue to World Calendar races in 2012.

Rabobank is one team set to defy the ruling, with Lars Boom claiming that the rider's points of view are simply not being acknowledged by the governing body.

"We will start with earpieces," Boom told NOS Sport. "It's important that we are heard and decisions aren't just taken behind a large boardroom table, which we just have to say 'yes' and 'amen' and 'obey'."

BMC will not be participating in the protest this weekend, despite General Manger Jim Ochowicz's belief that, "Race radios belong in the sport to provide safety and communications."

"We will not jeopardise the goodwill of race organisers by participating in any type of negative action," he said in a media release. "However, we immediately call upon the UCI to sit down in good faith with the appropriate partners to work out a compromise that is in the best interests of all concerned."

Earlier this week, Leopard-Trek's Jens Voigt called for the peloton to boycott the World Championships should the radio band continue.

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As a sports journalist and producer since 1997, Jane has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby league, motorsport, cricket, surfing, triathlon, rugby union, and golf for print, radio, television and online. However her enduring passion has been cycling.

 

Jane is a former Australian Editor of Cyclingnews from 2011 to 2013 and continues to freelance within the cycling industry.