Tour director Christian Prudhomme has introduced a unique compromise to the debate. Earpieces are being used in this Tour as always, but during the first 50km of each day’s stage, information about attacks will not be relayed until a rider has opened up a 30-second gap. That means riders will have to keep their wits about them much more than in the past and could create some interesting twists in the race.
Color me unimpressed. I guess it means that in the early part of the stage when guys are checking to see whether a break has legs, or who's in it, such matters will remain a mystery, at first. But 30" isn't too terribly much (if, for example, Evans snuck away) (which -- I know -- would never happen), and once the break got beyond 30", radios would operate as normal. And after 50km, regardless of what's happening it's all radios, all the time.
This is scaled back quite a bit from the original proposal to ban race radios on occasion, or on certain stages. The idea was that breaks should be allowed to go free and test riders' instincts as to whether and when to react. If radios were banned on a mountain stage, with Victory in the balance, the calculations would become even more significant and intriguing. I understand that riders have come to rely on radios for safety information, such as when a dangerous turn or narrow road is approaching. Surely there's a way to devise sensible radio silence, but just as surely that's now been punted to the offseason.