Gianni Bugno, president of the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA), announced today new protests against the ban on race radios. He said cyclists and teams will refuse the ban and use radios in all races starting March 26.
“I hope that the UCI re-thinks the rule and that there will be more meetings, if not, there will be this protest,” said Bugno. “We hope the UCI wants to talk, so we can create a dialog.”
The International Cycling Union (UCI) ahead of this season banned radio commutation between cyclists and team cars during races. The only exception to its new rule is for the 26 WorldTour races, which includes the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race, starting tomorrow, and the Tour de France. Next year, the UCI wants to ban radio use in all races.
With the help of the CPA and the International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP), the cyclists and teams have already protested in the first stages of the Tour de San Luis, the Giro di Regio Calabria and the Challenge Mallorca. They threatened to do so at the Tour of Qatar and the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but a protest was scrapped in the final hours.
This protest will be different, though. It not only includes the races on March 26 – E3 Prijs, Critérium International and Coppi & Bartali – but every race afterwards.
“The protests will go on,” Bugno added, “the Tour of Turkey… All of the non-ProTour [non-WorldTour – ed.] races.”
The AIGCP president, Jonathan Vaughters and the president of the Italian sports directors association (ADISPRO), Luca Guercilena joined Bugno in Marina di Carrara for the announcement.
The AIGCP already met with the UCI president, Pat McQuaid on Thursday regarding the race radio ban. McQuaid confirmed that the ban would go ahead, but that the UCI would work with the race organisers to ensure riders’ safety was paramount. Vaughters (pictured) said after the meeting that if the ban goes ahead all teams have “unanimously agreed on a drastic action.”
Vaughters still would not say what the action is, only that it’s separate from Bugno’s announcement.
“If the riders decide to take part in this protest, the teams will support them,” said Vaughters.
“This is a team sport, it’s not marathon running. What team sport can you name where the athletes don’t have communication with one another and the coach? The UCI is trying to eliminate a rule that allows this communication.”
Vaughters explained there are two aspects: sporting and representation. The UCI’s management committee fails to represent the teams or cyclists, he said.
“There are 15 members, none of them are representatives of the teams or are riders. These are the people that unilaterally chose to put this rule in place.”
Vaughters and Bugno both said that they would welcome more talks, but that they want representation when there are votes on key issues. They are using the radio ban issue as leverage.