Tensions mount in race radio debate, Tour of Beijing threat confirmed
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tensions mount in race radio debate, Tour of Beijing threat confirmed

by VeloNation Press at 6:41 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Teams’ and riders’ associations blocked from meeting with CCP

Some movement forward seemed possible when UCI President Pat McQuaid confirmed to VeloNation this week that the UCI might be prepared to allow limited radio use within the peloton, but tensions have now ramped up in the dispute.

The teams’ association AIGCP has issued a statement saying that it and the CPA (riders’ association) have been told by the UCI that they cannot take part in today’s Professional Cycling Council (CCP) meeting. The UCI’s controversial ban on race radio was one of the issues that was due to be discussed. It had met with UCI president Pat McQuaid recently.

As a result of this development, the AIGCP has confirmed that a previously-rumoured boycott of the Tour of Beijing could take place in October.

“One of our desires is to help improve the governance of cycling. We cannot be effective in this when we are not allowed to participate in these meetings,” it said in a statement. “Being invited and then removed, in a matter of days, from these meetings, depending on the whim of UCI management is unacceptable. To be clear, the teams remain unified in their stance on the radio issue. Cycling is a team sport and as such, communication is key for the athletes and the coaches. We continue to hope - and push - for an amicable resolution to this issue.”

According to the statement, the previously-set deadline remains in place. The planned course of action if that is not has been made clear by the AIGCP.

“If the use of radios in all professional cycling events is not permitted by May 1st, all of the teams have signed an accord that simply states that we will not participate in the Tour of Beijing, which is the only event in professional cycling that the UCI not only governs, but also promotes. This way we avoid actions that could be damaging for any race organizer that does not have any say or vote in the governance or regulation of the sport or any race that is part of cycling's rich history.

“Our objective in this action is to ensure that the people that actively work in field of professional cycling also have a vote in its regulation. Fair, logical, and agreed-upon regulations are our goal. We hope the UCI will become our partner in achieving this objective.”

The Tour of Beijing is a new World Tour (formerly known as ProTour) event which will be run this autumn. It is part of the UCI’s push to globalise the sport, and its cancellation would clearly be embarrassing for the governing body.

The dispute echoes previous conflicts over the ProTour, which at one point saw all of the qualified teams state that they would not take part in the races concerned.

Riders are currently only permitted to wear radio earpieces in World Tour events, with their use in all other events being restricted. Amongst the arguments made for their retention is the safety aspect. The UCI has said that it is looking into this area, yet the AIGCP has said that there are bigger issues to address. It states that teams have no say in the running of professional cycling, despite being a major stakeholder, and that it considers the UCI is forcing issues through.


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