The radio ban controversy refuses to go away, and in fact, in recent days, the conflict has escalated. First, USA Cycling announced earlier this week that the organization had lifted the radio ban for elite races in the United States. Teams may now race with radios at the National Racing Calendar events, beginning with the Redlands Bicycle Classic on 31 March. From the press release: "The vast majority of athletes, teams and event managers agree that safety cannot be compromised, and that progressive sports use more communications technology, not less," stated Bob Stapleton, owner of HTC-Highroad professional cycling team and USA Cycling board of directors USPRO representative. In lifting the radio ban, the American federation risks a clash with the UCI, who could fine or suspend USA Cycling.
Now comes the news today that the teams organization, the AIGCP, has thrown down an ultimatum to the UCI. Citing concerns over the governnance of the sport and arguing that cycling is a team sport, the AIGCP has called upon the UCI to lift the radio ban by 1 May. If the UCI refuses, the teams will boycott the Tour of Beijing, a race promoted by the UCI. The Tour of Beijing is the only race on the calendar that the UCI promotes. Consequently, the boycott will not damage an independent promoter, according to the AIGCP. Reportedly, the CPA, the rider's association, has also signed on to this agreement. No word yet on the UCI's response. VeloNews has a short conversation with Vaughters on today's news.
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AIGCP Press Release
One of our desires is to help improve the governance of cycling. We cannot be effective in this when we are not allowed to participate in these meetings. Being invited and then removed, in a matter of days, from these meetings, depending on the whim of UCI management is unacceptable. To be clear, the teams remain unified in their stance on the radio issue. Cycling is a team sport and as such, communication is key for the athletes and the coaches. We continue to hope - and push - for an amicable resolution to this issue.
However, if the use of radios in all professional cycling events is not permitted by May 1st, all of the teams have signed an accord that simply states that we will not participate in the Tour of Beijing, which is the only event in professional cycling that the UCI not only governs, but also promotes. This way we avoid actions that could be damaging for any race organizer that does not have any say or vote in the governance or regulation of the sport or any race that is part of cycling's rich history.
Our objective in this action is to ensure that the people that actively work in field of professional cycling also have a vote in its regulation. Fair, logical, and agreed upon regulations are our goal. We hope the UCI will become our partner in achieving this objective.