Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Race radio

Teams may not like the idea of racing without radios, but I do. Radio contact with a DS is essentially taking the guess work and risk taking out of cycle racing and that's the beginning and end of the story – no really, it is. The safety argument is a red herring, it's the fact that many of the riders are loose cannons without them, that's why the team managers want them and the control of the team hinges around using them. The managers are freaked out by the possibility of a rider messing up publicly. But why?

Before race radios, big days sometimes became big wins (Eros Poli was able to win the stage over Ventoux, or when Gilbert Duclos-Lasalle made that really long break) this sort of escapade would never happen now with radios. On the other hand neither would the deal making that goes on between teams be as easy to control and neither would Mark Cavendish's lead out train. Although I think the Columbia boys would manage OK. 

Riders from the sixties, seventies and eighties had far more to gain by taking risks, but the racing was far more open. Without radios the racing was far more unpredictable and exciting, but it also threw up surprises and encouraged attacking rides. There are very few riders these days willing to risk it all (even the wrath of their DS) and have a big dig if their legs are feeling good. Managing a team is the role of the DS and the team captain, that could be the compromise; just one rider with a radio? Not sure that would be much good either.

Some reckon that the racing would appear more 'amateur'. Well with the wired-up automatons in the peloton marking each other and watching their power/wattage/HRM and asking the DS if they can pee... it's not really a 'sport' anymore, more a methodology and a controlled experiment. And let's not mention the WWF style 'set up' finales – I think amateur and exciting may be a great improvement.

The argument seems to be setting up a big fall-out with the riders, but the Tour have realised that if the race is to remain 'interesting' they have to take some drastic steps. OK so the drama is there this year, and the fact that there are a fewin there who could still win, but how much of this is media hype and how much is actual racing incident? 

What has actually happened yet?


  1. Totally agree with the editor on this one. Let's take them away from the riders. It reminds me of my first memories of cycle racing, riders going back to the DS to get their instructions for the next period of racing. Riders having to use their initiative too.

  2. I agree. I think it would totally open up the field and change the complexion of a race. I love how "amateur" is used in a negative way. Give me a strong amateur and a Pro who isn't jacked up on the juice, riding with radios and all the other bells and whistles and you might find that it could be a race after all! Right now it seems like Pro racing is a combination of the WWF and Nascar. UGH.......

  3. amen to that..(that makes three of us..)