Lord knows I hate being on the side of our incompetent, bumbling UCI but I’m in favor of banning radios. I don’t like them in any sport. Back to pit boards for motorsports, screaming coaches & hand signals for ball sports and cycling the old fashioned way.
Sport should played within specified rules and boundaries. The beauty of sport is that, unlike nearly every other aspect of life, we have the choice to keep it pure and simple. Obviously in a sport like road cycling that is played outside in the public it is harder to insulate, but it’s worth trying. Understandingly in a sport that is increasingly obsessed with what they like to call technology, the temptation is even greater to incorporate every new thing you can stuff a battery in. I thought it was about pedaling hard.
The safety argument is mostly posturing by the directors and crusty old riders who want to be directors. I get why they want radios, they want more control and they want more info. If my job was to lead a team, I’d want more control and info. I’m not sure that equates to better racing. We need rules to restain these urges to take our sport out of the realm of competition.
The radio/safety argument is just a cheap “why do you hate the riders Mr. McQuaid?” kind of trick. Vaughter and especially Voigt should be ashamed of themselves. Despite that, rider (and spectator) safety is a significant concern. Course selection, preparation and marshalling are the primary methods for maintaining race safety. If those things are taken care of, radios add very little. (Yes, I’m ok with the marshals having radios)
What coach/DS wouldn’t want to chase their athletes around screaming at them? Imagine the joy of the boxing coach who has the rare fighter that can both listen and respond to instructions while having his face re-arranged. Tough, coaches are supposed to be angry and frustrated, it’s the job.
Imagine the rider who can think and react, read the peloton and sniff out the good moves. It’s certainly a more appealing image than the DS telling people when to attack based on watching the TV feed (or a HRM/Powermeter feed for that matter). It’s what the more knowledgeable fans live to spot. It’s one of the reasons we watch.
We want to understand why rider X decided to go at that moment and why it either worked or didn’t. Do we want the answer to be “JV told me to go, but Riis told his zombies to chase so it didn’t work”? Do we want JV or Riis to get up on the podium? I don’t.
What do we, the fans, gain with the use of radios, a few sound bites? Is it worth complicating the sport even further? Is it worth compromising the beauty and excitement of perhaps the greatest, most difficult sport?
We the fans want great racing and we ultimately drive the economy of the sport. If we don’t watch, read or care about the sport, you can bet the sponsors won’t either. The fans really own any professional sport, not the UCI, not the riders, not the directors and not the promoters. If we don’t care, they have to go get jobs and become amateurs too.
The question is: How can the fans’ wishes be heard over the current bickering?
[Lest you think I'm just a luddite (and I've been accused), I dig helmetcams (they report, not pollute) and think that they can only add to the fans' understanding and enjoyment but I like them most in amateur races like those found at: http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.com/]