Professional cycling teams have called for a round table discussion with the International Cycling Union (UCI) over a two-way radio dispute which threatens to disrupt the staging of key early season races. The UCI is gradually phasing the two-way radios out from the professional peloton because it believes teams have become too dependent on their use and can also use them to strategic advantage. Some teams have argued the radios are essential for security reasons, with sports directors and riders able to warn of dangers on the road such as oil spills, pot holes or dangerous bends in the mountains.
The UCI's decision has met with mixed reactions in the peloton, with some outspoken riders calling for drastic measures. German veteran Jens Voigt said earlier this week the peloton should threaten to boycott the world road race cycling championships in protest at the decision. And Rabobank's Lars Boom openly defied the UCI, claiming his team would start this Saturday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad one-day race with the intention to use the banned radios.
"We will start with earpieces," Boom told NOS Sport. "It's important that we are heard and decisions aren't just taken behind a large boardroom table, which we just have to say 'yes' and 'amen' and 'obey'."
UCI chief Pat McQuaid responded to those reactions was quoted as saying earlier this week: "If that happens then there is no race. Then we will withdraw our backing and the riders will not be insured."
The professional teams' official association, the AIGCP, said it was time to find a solution to avoid upsetting the race calendar. It said in a statement issued Friday: "Upon receiving information that the UCI threatened to remove race commissaires from Omloop Het Niewsblad, if riders were to wear radios, the race organizer could not guarantee the race could go forward, as insurance policies required commissaires to be present.
"The AIGCP have decided, by a majority, that to endanger a long standing race would not be in the best interest of the sport, its fans, and its sponsors. We, once again, extend an invitation to the UCI to find a compromise on this issue. We also are hopeful that the UCI will no longer threaten race organizers with actions that imperil their events."