I would like to thank you for your comments on my post regarding the radio. I can see that this is something that makes people talk…and there are very good reasons why.
Back in the days when we didn’t have radios, you had three options to get info on the race:
The crowd: it wasn’t the most accurate info you could get but it was very motivating and you are feeling much closer from the fans that the riders probably are today. I loved it and I’m sure that if you talk to any NFL players, they would tell you they love to hear the crowds!
The “Ardoisier”: This is that funny guy on his motorcycle who gives you the gap between the echappée and the peloton. When you race, you always look for this guy. Today, they are really useless but tradition stands and we keep them on the course.
Third and most safe option: the team manager and one of your teammates who would slow down to the race director’s car, collect the info and orders, and pedal back up in the peloton to tell his mates what to do. It was way less secure but we had much more open racing.
So the real question is: Do you enjoy predictable races like we have now? Do you like the fact that we can almost say at what second the peloton will make it back on the echappé and Cavendish will win the sprint?
I’m sure you don’t.
The reality is that cycling is not a technical sport. It’s an athletic-performance sport. Therefore, the peloton has never been more compact and consistent. There isn’t much difference between riders except for cycling icons like Armstrong, Contador or Cavendish on the sprint.
I remember the rivalry between Ulrich and Armstrong a few years ago. Back then, Ulrich was stronger than Armstrong but don’t get me wrong, Armstrong was still winning, wasn’t he? Why? Because he is just a smarter dude! Ulrich couldn’t get in the right echappée or get the right pace without his team manager.
Note also that in team sports like you talk about, you have team managers, coaches and players. In cycling, you go straight from team managers to players/riders. You don’t have a coach on the field. So it’s hard to compare sports that are not comparable.
Cycling is an old-school sport and it happens that it’s a lot more fun if you play it old school, without radios.
The more I think about this, the more I think that the idea of having only one guy in the team with a radio is the best option. The rider and the team get informed if there is any danger...and if the guy holding the radio gets one of his teammates in the echappée...we can’t control the échappée anymore and here comes the fun..
I will finish this post with today’s race that didn’t see Cavendish winning, surprisingly. The Columbia team looks very much out of shape and rode very slowly. I don’t know why and we are still trying to figure this out.
I guess Cavendish was a bit tired and the team decided not to launch on a sprint he wouldn’t win…just so he can keep his confidence up.
But what is funny about today is that the other teams are so stressed by the Columbia team, they are so scared that when Columbia didn’t ride hard, they layered their pace on them just to control Cavendish. It was funny to look at. Columbia is ruling the peloton this week.
Tomorrow will be rainy and hilly so I guess we will have an interesting day. I’m just hoping that we won’t get too many crashes. Will radios and team managers be able to prevent a rider from sliding on a slippery road? I doubt it...
Enjoy the show,
Ronan Pensec participated eight times in the Tour de France and wore the yellow jersey in 1990 while racing for Greg Lemond's Z team. He now operates Ronan Pensec Travel, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.