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USA Cycling lifts race radio ban for NRC

COLORADO SPRING, Co ─ After gathering input from U.S. teams, riders, organizers, officials and other stakeholders, USA Cycling has determined that teams will be allowed to once again use race radios in National Racing Calendar (NRC) competition and at the USA Cycling professional and elite road national championship events.

Following international precedent in 2010, USA Cycling banned the use of race radios in national-level events with subsequent plans for evaluation on all aspects of that decision at the end of the year. After review, the U.S. Professional Racing Organization board of trustees recommended lifting the radio ban.

“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,” said USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson. “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.”

“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,” stated Bob Stapleton, owner of HTC-Highroad professional cycling team and USA Cycling board of directors USPRO representative. “The goal is to make cycling both safe and exciting and to ultimately bring the audience further into the action.”

“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,” stated USA Cycling board of directors President and USPRO representative Bill Peterson. “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 2011 NRC event, the Redlands Bicycle Classic will take place March 31 – April 3.

via USA Cycling lifts race radio ban for NRC.

I’m so torn on the radio ban … on the one hand, I agree that teams should be able to communicate with their team cars for safety reasons, but on the other hand, in so many cases races have gotten boring because the race can be timed down to the second, and there’s almost no chance for a breakaway to succeed.

In football, only the quarterback and one defensive player get radios … sometimes I think that only the team leader and/or road captain should have radios. Sometimes I think that all the team radios should be on the same frequency, which definitely allows for communication of safety issues, but would hamper strategy from the team car, forcing the riders to think for themselves.

In any case, however you feel about radios in the peloton, the UCI’s approach to the issue sucks … at least USA Cycling is listening to its stakeholders, including the teams and riders.

But I still think there needs to be some sort of modification to the radio rules to bring some of the excitement back to the sport.