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USA Cycling ends radio ban for NRC races

Riding at Redlands

Riding at Redlands (Image credit: Steve Cohen)

USA Cycling, the governing body of the sport in the USA, has announced that race radios will allowed in National Racing Calendar races in 2011, overturning the ban of 2010 and defying the UCI’s plans to gradually ban radio use across the sport.

The U.S. Professional Racing Organization board of trustees recommended lifting the radio ban for both safety and racing reasons.

“As we approached the 12 month anniversary of the radio ban in domestic races, we listened to input from the various affected stakeholders including officials, race directors, team directors and riders,” USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson said in a press release.

“In the process, we considered all of the categories of the racing environment that are impacted by radios including rider and spectator safety, caravan and peloton management and team/rider communication; frankly, radios won on every count.”

Bob Stapleton, owner of the HTC-Highroad professional cycling team and a member of the USA Cycling board of directors USPRO representative backed the decision: “The vast majority of athletes, teams and event managers agree that safety cannot be compromised, and that progressive sports use more communications technology, not less,” he said.

“The goal is to make cycling both safe and exciting and to ultimately bring the audience further into the action.”

Other federations may follow USA Cycling

USA Cycling board of directors President and USPRO representative Bill Peterson gave a damning verdict against the UCI’s reasons of banning race radio. He accepted the opinions of the riders, teams and organisers and suggested that USA Cycling’s decision will open the gates to other national federations making the same decision.

“The decision was made because we believe race radios bring a unique level of strategy that is good for cycling, provide for innovation opportunities with our broadcast partners, and gives everyone in the peloton an additional safety measure,” he stated

“We have spent considerable time discussing this issue with many experienced racers, team managers, and race organizers; we have yet to find anyone make a convincing case to eliminate race radios. Therefore we are allowing radios within the races we control, and I suspect many countries around the world will follow our lead.”

The first event where race radio will be allowed is the Redlands Bicycle Classic between March 31-April 3.

The UCI has yet to respond to USA Cycling’s decision.

In Europe professional riders have threatened to protest and wear race radio during Criterium International in France, the Coppi & Bartali race in Italy and at the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke in Belgium on March 26. The major teams have also reportedly threatened to the Tour of Beijing in October, the new race recently added to the World Calendar by the UCI.