Race radio protest abandoned in Qatar as ASO steps in
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Monday, February 7, 2011

Race radio protest abandoned in Qatar as ASO steps in

by Shane Stokes at 6:29 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Qatar
AIGCP’s next move not yet known, but issue likely to persist

Following yesterday’s insistence by many riders to use race radios during the opening stage of the Challenge Mallorca races, it had been understood that a similar protest would be carried out during today’s stage of the Tour of Qatar. However that has been abandoned following pressure from the race organisers ASO who, crucially, also organise the Tour de France.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, ASO's laid down the law and told teams that any protests would not be tolerated. It quotes competitions director Jean-François Pescheux as saying that, “there is a regulation, and it will be respected. Whoever uses race radios is out of the race,” he proclaimed. “If the majority uses them, the jury will withdraw.”

In recent years, ASO has had a tense relationship with the UCI and while that has improved somewhat, there is the possibility that commercial decisions are as much a factor in the French company’s insistence that the race should proceed as normal.

The Tour of Qatar is funded for by the oil-rich state, which has paid ASO to run its race since its inception ten years ago.

Yesterday’s move by teams to compete with the radios led to the UCI saying that the stage results would be cancelled. Garmin-Cervélo’s American sprinter Tyler Farrar was first to the line at the end of the Trofeo Palma de Mallorca leg of the Mallorca Challenge. He proved quicker than the Spaniard Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) and German Marcel Kittel (Skil-Shimano) in the gallop at the end of the race. The UCI later stated that the results were void.

Fellow American Tejay van Garderen made his feelings clear on the matter, implying that officials shouldn’t throw their weight around. “The race happened yesterday and Tyler Farrer won. If anyone wants to argue that, first show me your race number,” he wrote on Twitter.

It is not known what the AIGCP’s next move will be. The association, which represents the interests of the teams, issued a press release yesterday explaining why it took the measure it did. “We feel that our collaborative action was our last resort,” it stated.

It said its intention was to be "strong and unified" and not "disruptive or negative." It added that it refuses to accept rules "without appropriate representation."

It’s president Jonathan Vaughters said afterwards via Twitter that the teams generall feel that their wishes are not being listened to by the UCI. “To be clear, radio ban protests are not only about the radio ban,” he said. “Teams and riders must have greater participation in governance of cycling.”

While the Tour of Qatar continues as planned, without radios, it is likely that this issue will flare up again and that the teams will push for greater unity and also greater representation.


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