Breukink says teams are united against radio ban
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Breukink says teams are united against radio ban

by VeloNation Press at 7:51 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Dutchman calls on UCI to have discussions on issue

Team RabobankThree days after the peloton staged a protest against the radio ban by wearing banned earpieces in the first stage of the Mallorca Challenge, the issue shows no sign of settling down. While a similar protest scheduled for stage one of the Tour of Qatar was overturned after organisers ASO said that they would disqualify any riders or teams who broke the rules, Rabobank’s technical director Erik Breukink has warned that the teams remain united on the issue.

“It seems to me only logical that the UCI responds to the invitation of the teams to discuss the topic,” he told AD. “The teams have shown that they are united and all on the same wavelength. More out of respect to the organiser, we have limited the action to one day. We now hope that the UCI aligns with us.”

The UCI said this week that it had no intentions of backing down, thus increasing the prospects that this will flare up once again in the near future. ASO’s clout as organiser of the Tour de France means that further protests are unlikely to take place at the Tours of Qatar or Oman, but some have hinted that further disruption is pending.

Breukink is clear on what he feels should be done. “The communication by earpieces should remain. With the dangers to the riders and the tactical aspect of the team leaders, I think that removal is not an option. We must also think ahead and not go back in time. Proper use of modern communication will help and not hinder the sport. The teams are unanimously and categorically opposed to a ban.”

The UCI’s argument for banning radios is due in part to the assertion that riders have become too dependent on instructions from the team car, rather than thinking for themselves. Compromises are in theory possible, including requiring the race organiser to provide radio warnings to riders about upcoming dangers, or by allowing riders alone to have radios and thus limit communication within the bunch rather than back to the directeur sportif.

The weeks ahead will determine which direction this all goes in, but as team’s association president Jonathan Vaughters has emphasised, the protests are more than being about radios alone. He said that teams are a major stakeholder, yet have been effectively ignored by the UCI in decision making.

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