Race radios: AIGCP press on with Tour of Beijing boycott

Frank Schleck (Leopard Trek) wearing his illegal radio at the start of the Trofeo Palma de Mallorca

Frank Schleck (Leopard Trek) wearing his illegal radio at the start of the Trofeo Palma de Mallorca (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The war of words between the UCI and the AIGCP (International Association of Professional Cycling Groups) and CPA took another twist today when it was announced that the UCI had barred the CPA from today's Professional Cycling Council (PCC) meeting. The three bodies were planning to meet today in Milan, Italy in order to discuss matters such as the continuing argument over race radios.

The ban from today's proceedings has prompted the AIGCP to publicly state that if a ban on race radios has not been overturned by May 1 they will not participate in the Tour of Beijing later this year.

In a statement released to the press, the AIGCP said, "One of our desires is to help improve the governance of cycling. We cannot be effective in this when we are not allowed to participate in these meetings. Being invited and then removed, in a matter of days, from these meetings, depending on the whim of UCI management is unacceptable. To be clear, the teams remain unified in their stance on the radio issue. Cycling is a team sport and as such, communication is key for the athletes and the coaches. We continue to hope - and push - for an amicable resolution to this issue.

"However, if the use of radios in all professional cycling events is not permitted by May 1, all of the teams have signed an accord that simply states that we will not participate in the Tour of Beijing, which is the only event in professional cycling that the UCI not only governs, but also promotes. This way we avoid actions that could be damaging for any race organizer that does not have any say or vote in the governance or regulation of the sport or any race that is part of cycling's rich history."

In the last few days, battle lines between the UCI and the AIGCP and CPA have become entrenched with both sides gaining support. The European Cycling Union nominated its support for the UCI in recent days, while USA Cycling overturned the ban on race radios in their own NRC races for 2011.

Previously, the AIGCP had stated that they would use of 'drastic action' if the UCI continued to ban race radios, while the Belgian press were the first to mention that the Tour of Beijing (October 5-9) could be under threat.

"Our objective in this action is to ensure that the people that actively work in field of professional cycling also have a vote in its regulation. Fair, logical, and agreed upon regulations are our goal. We hope the UCI will become our partner in achieving this objective."

The first challenge this year came at the first race in the Challenge Mallorca, where the riders wore their radios in defiance of the UCI's ban. The UCI allowed the race to go on, but did not recognise the results. Plans to make another protest at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last month were called off at the last minute amidst fears the race might be cancelled.

The UCI has banned the use of race radios in all races ranked 1.HC/2.HC and below. It will be extended to cover World Calendar races in 2012.

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