Friday, January 7, 2011

Race Radio Pros

I am a big supporter of race radios in the pro peloton. The fact that the huge majority of the riders support (Cycle Nation) the continued, unrestricted use of them is telling as well. It is a safety buffer, a tactical key, an unparalleled team middleman, and a trusted helper on the road for every rider in the peloton.
Team BMC and a race radio for rider, Mathias Frank (2010)
I can see why the UCI decided to ban them from competition during the 2010 World Championships. Maybe it was a "Let the strongest man win," mentality. A solo breakaway ending in a magnificent "against all odds" solo win of the world championships can spell the most inspiring moment for years to come in the sport of cycling. The peloton could misjudge their timing of trying to reel back in any kind of break away and the sprint for the finish might be amongst 2-9 riders instead of 100+. Now there are more tactics involved that decide the real sprinters, but yeah the decision for ban radios (that were raced with all year) for the end of the season world championship race was not met with inspiring wonder by the peloton.

Here are two videos from Team BMC and their usage of race radios. In the first video, we hear a rider calling back to the team car for waters and the director then drives up to the peloton knowing his team needs him. He hands off needed water and coke to the rider and calls for another rider back to get more drinks for the team while he is there. It is how the races are done nowadays. I see nothing wrong except for a little extra bottle holding "rest" for his hard working domestique.

This second video shows the driving necessary during a race taken by a director when he is called upon. I can see why I heard those screeching tires in the first video.

And just because Fabian Cancellara can have a good day without the help of a well working race radio, doesn't mean they are unnecessary. Maybe... just maybe... his alleged moto-doping bike machine was causing a little too much interference for his radio signal... maybe.

I like Rabobank's to have radio communications broadcast live during races. That would be fun for a lot of people to listen to. I know I would enjoy it at least in the last 20km when things can really heat up in a race. Broadcasting communications would also allow for a lot of support from cycling fans to keep them part of the sport. A further demystification of how pro teams work would mean a lot for many people - like they are closer to their favorite teams and riders.

I don't think broadcasting communications will come immediately, but hopefully the UCI's "glory bans," I'll call them, will cease. Strong riders will still make their breaks, attacks, and wins.