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Race Radios?

Posted by Bruce E Hildenbrand on Jul 24, 2007 8:24:00 AM

Does the peloton really need race radios?  Every rider wears one; they are used to communicate with the team director in the support car.  The excitement generated by the likes of Vinokourov, Contador and Rasmussen at the Tour belies the fact that a lot of pro racing has become boring.  The riders have become robots, pedaling along waiting for the orders from the team director to attack or chase.  Most of the directors have satellite TV in their autos, so they can follow the race and react in an instant.  The result is almost always predictable.  There are few surprises.


Personally, I would like to ban race radios.  Lest you think I am flip-flopping, I first wrote about my dislike of the radios way back in 1993, when they were first introduced by Motorola with its Peloton Communication System.  Motorola sponsored a European professional team back then.  One of its riders was a 21-year-old Texan named Lance. Unfortunately, Motorola management did not appreciate my stance and when I visited the team on the first rest day in Grenoble, I was politely asked to reconsider my opinion.  Well, it has been 14 years and I still don't like radios.


The teams will argue that the radios make riding in the pack much safer.  If a rider has a problem he can contact his director over the airwaves rather than go back between all the team cars risking an accident.  Yes, this is one valid reason, but the riders still have to go back to their cars to pick-up/drop-off equipment and fetch food and water. So, I am not convinced that it is critical to reduce trips back to the cars.


A lot of the riders don't like the radios either.  Back in the day, part of being a pro was reading the race.  You had to be at the front to make sure none of the danger men slipped away.  Conversely, if you were pretty crafty, you might be able to attack and get away with little notice.  Now, information on who is up the road is right there on the TV in the director's car.  So, riders just sit in the pack waiting to be told what to do.  It's all about horsepower below the waist and not above the neck.  How do you all feel about race radios in the peloton?


Ever Upward,


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