A debate has been reeling in the cycling world for several years now as to whether or not race radio takes away some of the sporting elements of bicycle racing. With very little or no evidence to show otherwise, the Tour de France organizers have stepped in with what could produce the evidence necessary for the ban.
For those that don’t follow pro cycling races, let me explain. All riders in the races wear earpieces that connect them to their team director who is driving in a car behind the peloton. The Director “directs” the riders on tactics – when to attack, when to sit up, time gaps to breakaway’s, when to start chasing, etc. The Directors know almost down to the second exactly how long it will take to chase down a breakaway. It’s become formulaic and we see it happen in race after race. A breakaway goes clear several kilometers into the race and only to get caught 150 kilometers later when they are within 1km of the finish. On the plus side, though, the Directors can warn the riders of obstacles on the course up ahead.
This year, the Tour de France has proposed banning race radio for 2 stages of the 3 week race. And I’m all for it! Let’s finally see if the riders are just as tactical without being hand fed the information. Let’s race the old fashioned way – on instinct!
At the Tour of California this year, bad weather conditions knocked out race radio communications and it sent the peloton into a frenzy. No one could figure out who should chase the break or when. It was quite comical to see the racers looking at each other like they had no idea where they were. Chris Horner was pleading with the group to start chasing but by the time they finally listened to him, it was too late. The break stayed away and it nearly caused disaster for the race leader. THAT’S the kind of drama that makes people watch a sport.
Why should I bother sitting through 3 hours of race coverage when I can write the script for the first 2 hours and 55 minutes?