Radios banned for NRC races

Posted on 02. Feb, 2010 by in news

Earlier today, USA Cycling announced that radios will now be banned in all USA Cycling road and track races – that means all NRC road races.

A sight that won't be seen again at Tour de Beauce: David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies) on the radio

A sight that won't be seen again at Tour de Beauce: David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies) on the radio

In response to a request from the UCI that radios be banned in all national calendar races, the USCF Board of Trustees met and amended the rule regarding the use of race radios in all USA Cycling sanctioned road and track races.

In 2010, race radios will only be allowed for use by teams and riders in UCI Category HC or Category 1 races in the U.S. per UCI regulations.

Rule 1N6 Pg. 57, which takes effect immediately, now reads:

“Riders may not use radios, telephones, or other such communication devices. No earpieces may be worn. Audio playback devices are expressly forbidden.”

“I would like to thank the USCF Trustees for moving quickly in response to the request we received from the UCI,” said Steve Johnson, CEO of USA Cycling. “Although I think the jury is still out regarding the future of radios in our sport, given the current direction being set by the UCI indicating their intent to phase out radio usage across the board, we all agreed that it was important to make this adjustment now rather than later in the season.”

Let’s recap. After a meeting in Switzerland on September 23, the UCI Management Committee decided to ban gradually the use of earpiece radios for all categories of rider. The ban was already in place for the Junior and U23 categories. The radio ban is now expanded to cover UCI *.2 events for Elite Women and Men  in 2010.  Events impacted are in the UCI international calendar, the national calendar as well as the UCI World Championships.

Following this new ruling from USA Cycling, only 3 UCI road races in the United States are not impacted by the ban: the Amgen Tour of California, Philadelphia International Championships and Tour of Missouri which are all .HC races.

Note that the two ProTour races held in Canada, le Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and  le Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal are also not affected by the UCI radio ban this year.

Pros and cons. Team VBF Director Sportif Lisa Hunt discussed the pros and cons of a radio bans a few weeks ago.

“The pros are that it allows the riders to make some decisions themselves and take a few risks that they may not normally take when they have the comfort and the security of a radio. And they have to think, they have to be on their toes, they can’t let a breakaway go up the road thinking ‘oh yeah it will come back, we just have to wait’.”

The cons can be simply stated as a safety concern as team manager have been able to communicate and relay upcoming road hazards to the riders. “That is something that needs to be taken into consideration and I’m hoping there is a remedy to that situation.”

The safety issue is primordial for all involved.  How will safety of the riders be ensured on races where the roads are not closed? Or when a rider is dropped behind the rolling enclosure?

How will riders be notified of road issues that were not in the race bible, hazards on the road, broken down cars,…. it all happens at races. And EMTs needing access to the road… the list is long. Hopefully race organizers will take the radio ban into account.

What do YOU think?

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7 Responses to “Radios banned for NRC races”

  1. Wool Shorts

    02. Feb, 2010

    For as long as cyclists have been racing, there have not been radios. It was only when Motorola came around in the early 90s that the sport took to using them.

    There will be incidents, but there will always be incidents. Someday, tires will no longer go flat, riders will receive all the food they need in a single pill (so no more feed bags) and a vision display screen on the inside of their sunglasses will show them all the telemetry (course map, their speed, watts, heart rate, etc.) so they will hardly even need a team car.

  2. Chris Cleeland

    02. Feb, 2010

    Perhaps riders could wear radios tuned only into race radio? Except smaller races don’t really have “race radio” like the HC tours. So, that would impose another burden on promoters.

  3. Name

    02. Feb, 2010

    I’ve done communications for MS-150 bike tours in the days before cell phones and FRS radios were common (i.e., cyclists had NO method of communication other than waiting for the next support vehicle to come up the road, or limping to the next rest station). I’m also part of the regular volunteer communications crew for the NYC Marathon. So, I have some idea of how to handle logistics for riders who are not wearing/carrying personal communications devices.

    Before the start of the race, a series of precursor vehicles checks the route for hazards before the event or race begins, and reports them back to event central. (If the event is run on closed roads, the precursor vehicles start off after the roads have been closed to traffic.) In some larger closed-road events (such as the NYC Marathon), a repair truck follows the precursors to hot-patch potholes (the patch method allows the rest of the advance fleet — and the participants, the trailing fleet, etc. — to use the road immediately).

    Following the precursor vehicles (and if available, the road-patch vehicle), is the train of “lead” vehicles, including the initial police escort, the VIP vehicles, and (where appropriate) the press cars. There are also one or more “lead vehicles” attached to the communications crew to determine road conditions immediately in advance of the participants. For the Marathon, these are cyclists; for a cycling event, this may be a car, a van, a light truck, or a motorcycle. For a road race, these vehicles would head out some time/distance in advance of the neutral start. Again, road conditions are relayed back, and if any hazards remain the start of event may be postponed, or the participants may be warned of the hazard(s) before starting.

    During some of these events, marshals indicate turns and hazards along the route as needed, and rest area crews are given the information to forward to participants as they make their check-ins. (Obviously this would be impractical during a race. Loudspeakers at key locations might serve this purpose.) There is also a cadre of support vehicles which go up and down the course, looking for downed riders and drop-outs. (In a road race, the usual support vehicles — course doctor, team support cars, neutral support vehicle, motorcycle support team, etc. — should be able to report this back to Communications Central and serve a similar purpose.)

    Immediately following the last rider on the course there is the “sweep”, another key position in the communications team. On a bike tour/bikeathon event, the “sweep” vehicle is required to follow the last cyclist, whoever he or she was, and regardless of where s/he was in regards to the rest of the course, road re-openings, etc. In this way, event communications was able to account for all riders on the road.

  4. Name

    02. Feb, 2010

    Best thing for NRC racing in a long time. Keep the big teams from controlling the races too much.

  5. Name

    02. Feb, 2010

    I agree, best thing to come to racing is to get rid of the radios. The compromise is exactly what Chris mentions above, you give the riders a radio that only broadcasts information from the race director

  6. Name

    03. Feb, 2010

    I think this year will be interesting to see how teams respond to this; I am neither for nor against the radio banned -been a Director Sportif and I have been listening to all the DS talk about rider safety, which is a huge concern, but no DS has openly address’ the hidden issue that comes with this ban, the loss of control of the race and riders in the race. No more telling the riders who is off the front and by how much, or telling riders to work with what team because a deal has been struck by team cars, or when to attack, radioing to the riders how far the KOM, or Sprint Ace jersey are up the road . . .it’s the lose of control that I think is the big push back from DS and teams. So, I think it will be interesting to watch and see how this unfolds.

  7. Name

    03. Feb, 2010

    I can’t help but think that this will make races far more interesting to race and watch.

    And yes, DS’s are pissed because it forces them to relinquish control and puts more accountability on the riders who, by the way, *do* possess brains and decision making skills.