USA Cycling bans race radios

Following suit with the UCI's new rule to ban race radios in events classified below the top levels, USA Cycling's Board of Trustees voted last night in an emergency meeting to extend the ban to all US national races.

The UCI had announced last fall that it would ban radios at the lowest level of elite racing. It has several classes of events: Historic and ProTour at the top, 2.HC or 1.HC for stage races and one-day races, respectively, and then 2.1/1.1 and 2.2/1.2 as the bottom two rungs.

The UCI first banned radios in under 23 races in 2009, then extended that rule to the x.2 level and national-level professional races for the 2010 season.

Because all but three races in the United States fall at the 2.2 or 1.2 level, USA Cycling decided that it made no sense to continue to allow race radios in any non-UCI sanctioned events, said USAC Technical Director, Shawn Farrell.

"There are only three races in the USA where the radios will be allowed: Tour of Missouri, Tour of California and Philadelphia (men and women)," said Farrell. "It wouldn't make much sense to disallow radios for pros and elite riders at NRC races or 1.2 UCI races and then have them for even lower level local events."

The new regulation was added to the USA Cycling rule book last night and will be effective immediately, reversing a previous rule which allowed radios in road events open to professionals and category 1 and 2 but not for masters, juniors and under 23s.

The ruling comes as little surprise to the US Continental teams, who were warned well in advance that this decision might be handed down.

"I was surprised that the issue was not more contentious than it was, but I guess everyone sees where the UCI is heading and we might as well have our athletes preparing for what they will face internationally. Canada and Australia have already done the same thing, or so I am told," said Farrell.

He pointed out that many of the top US races are run under UCI regulations even if they're not sanctioned by the UCI, such as the elite and masters road national championships.

"If the UCI rules had just dealt with higher level races it would be different, but by them cutting out [radio use] in most of our pro races and NRC, there wasn't anything left anyway. It seemed like the logical thing to do."

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