Professional riders and teams can potentially circumnavigate the ban on race radios in races such as the World Championships and Tour of Britain by using mobile phones that are synced to their bike computers
The use of radio communication in professional cycling races has been debated a lot. The UCI currently permits the use of radios in UCI WorldTour events, Women’s World Cup events and time trials. But what about races where they are not sanctioned, races such as the Tour of Britain and World Championships?
“It was realized over the events and months that a number of teams had already largely replaced the radios with Garmin systems where there is a capacity to continuously transmit information to the riders.”
Certain bike computers, such as the latest Garmin units can sync with mobile phones via bluetooth. This would enable directeur sportifs to track their riders position on the road, but also send them live text messages that can appear on the head unit screen. The use of ‘live tracking’ is particularly useful for helping riders who have stopped at the side of the road with a mechanical.
In races without radios, information regarding time gaps, crashes and wind changes would be a huge advantage.
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According to UCI, the use of mobile phones by riders during a race is not allowed under article 2.2.024. Luca Paolini was fined 50CHF (£34) for being pictured using his mobile phone during a stage of the 2014 Tour de France.
Although mobile phones are banned, it is argued that they could easily be concealed within a jersey pocket and riders would not need to touch the phone in order to receive messages on their head unit screen.