Jens Voigt threatens World Championship boycott if progressive radio ban continues
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jens Voigt threatens World Championship boycott if progressive radio ban continues

by Jered Gruber at 1:34 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
"If we get just a single fatal accident, the price is already too high for something that someone thinks will make the sport more interesting."

As the saga of the progressive radio ban lumbers slowly forward, one of the bans most vocal opponents and one of the sport's most popular riders, Jens Voigt, has upped the ante in the radio fight by threatening to boycott the 2011 World Championships along with other riders.

In typical Jens Voigt fashion, the German breaks his point down into a very simple idea. If the riders's wishes won't be heeded, then they will do something that will be memorable and painful. Pain seems to be a catch all word with Voigt, and again, it takes center stage in a conversation with sporten.tv2.dk.

"I support the idea that only painful experiences stick in your memory. If nobody will listen, we must make the experience pain filled, so people think: 'Ah, that hurt. Maybe we should listen next time.'"

While Jens Voigt not starting in this fall's World Championships would certainly not be the end of the world, his clout within the peloton could pose an incredible situation - imagine if a large contingent of the professional peloton refused to start in Copenhagen? Sure, some riders would race and a World Champion would be crowned, but would the UCI feel that a radio ban was so important that they'd be willing to weather a rider strike?

The rider and team protests are not quiet, and the calls for safety through radio information are certainly real and fair. While Voigt is a renowned lover of all things pain, his preference appears to be one that is pedaling related and not crashing, particularly an avoidable crash. The Criterium International dominator feels that the radios are essential for safety in the peloton and without them, he feels that crashes will be inevitable and takes danger to its most extreme by posing the possibility of a fatal crash due to the absence of vital information that radios provide.

"If we get just a single fatal accident, the price is already too high for something that someone thinks will make the sport more interesting. I would rather have a boring race where everyone is happy and alive, and can come home and embrace his parents and say, 'Hi Mom and Dad. I'm alive!"

When the radio ban was first introduced at the Tour de France in 2009, Christian Prudhomme spoke of a bygone era and dreamed of heroic successes.

"I hope for a little bit of fantasy to return to the race and for riders who take risks to go all the way," said the Tour de France boss to Reuters.

It's interesting that Prudhomme wished for riders to take more risks. Apparently, he sees riders taking more risks through breakaways, not the way Voigt sees riders taking risks sans radios.

At the time, the two-time Deutschland Tour winner retorted: "Why not have two days without helmets and two days without breaks?"

It would certainly have made things more interesting. Almost two years later, Voigt's opinion stands firm, just as the UCI's does. Voigt can't help but turn to the people writing down his words.

"Imagine if all the world's journalists were suddenly told: From now on, you cannot use laptops, the internet, or pencils. Would you consider taking it seriously? Of course not!"

There are certainly a number of questions to come from the Leopard Trek rider's comments to sporten.tv2.dk.

Is talk of a boycott real? If so, how many riders could be pulled together? Will the UCI listen? Does the UCI care? Of course, there are many more questions, but it's apparent that the UCI's refusal to listen to the riders will not be swallowed sweetly by the people doing the racing.

 

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