Not content with supporting a ban of radios in races, today top French climber Romain Bardet upped his demands.
“The radios must go and the video screens, too,” said Bardet at his AG2R training camp in the Alps. “Getting rid of screens will bring back some of the spirit and panache that have been missing in the sport.”
Bardet was referencing the screens inside the team cars and team buses that give detailed visual information that can then be communicated to riders. “They are watching me constantly, those Team Sky people, with their video screens. If they see I am tired or launching an attack from behind, they tell Froome instantly,” he said.
According to Bardet, it would be better if pro cycling returned to a simpler, pre-radio and pre-screen time. “Where is poetry, where is drama, where is the courage? Everything is robotic now. The rider looks at his power meter, listens to his radio and the team watches their screens,” said Bardet. “How can I dream of winning the Tour de France with all this technology killing the race?”
While the president of the UCI, David Lappartient, has said he favors banning radios in races, there has been no official position on screen devices. “And why not, you have to ask yourself. We worry about our children spending too much time in front of screens,” said Bardet, warming to his subject. “It stunts their imagination and it stunts bike racing, too.”
For his part, Bardet has had enough. “Everyone knows the screens are bad for your health. It’s documented, it’s scientific fact,” he said. “I wish they would rip those screens right out of the team cars. Then we would be racing on instinct, using our heads and our hearts.”
Sadly, it seems unlikely that there will be a ban on video devices anytime soon. “It’s all too much really. Soon, the team managers will be texting the riders when to attack. They radio them when to eat and drink, when to tighten their shoes, when to put on a jacket, when to take a piss,” said Bardet. “I want the radios and screens out of the sport but I am like a hamster shouting into the wind.”