As always, money talks.
A last minute compromise between the UCI and the rider’s union over the radio ban has been reached. With this weekend’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne nearly at hand, a deal has been hammered out.
The UCI’s proposed radio ban has now been changed to a pay-per-radio plan. Details are yet to be hammered out, but the basics are that teams will be charged 500 euros per radio, with a discount offered for a dozen or more.
In addition, there will be two radio communication plans offered. The ProRadio plan gives each team 500 minutes per month and the RadioLite option is 350 minutes. Final prices have yet to to determined but are believed to be around 300 euros for the premium set-up.
“We have always said the idea of the radio ban is to increase competition. This is a compromise that works for everyone,” said UCI president Pat McQuaid. “Teams will now be forced to be strategic with their minutes because once they’re gone, you can’t add more. This will makes races more exciting.”
Jonathan Vaughters, speaking for the riders’ union, expressed his satisfaction with the end of the ban. “I think everyone came to their senses. It’s not the solution we suggested but long story short, we can work with it,” said Vaughters.
The response from critics was both fast and furious. Speaking to L’Equipe, five time Tour winner Bernard Hinault called the compromise “an absurd joke.” “So now the UCI is a phone company? A team runs out of minutes in the second week of the Tour? Ridiculous,” said Hinault.
Moreno Argentin was also less than enthusiastic about the calling plans. “This isn’t a compromise, it’s a scam, a money-making scam,” said Argentin.
With the full scope of the plan yet to be announced, rumors are flying. There’s talk that Team Conference Calling may be a feature and also a special automated response program for when team directors are too busy driving to offer advice and encouragement.
One person with knowledge of the plans also stated there’s a bonus “Spy” option where teams can listen to other teams’ radio communication or tap into a rival riders audio stream. All Twisted Spoke can say right now is, stay tuned.
News continues to filter in on the specifics of the UCI radio talk plans. According to TS reader Drum, there is a long distance option: the further a rider is from the Directer Sportif in the team car, the lower the rate. Thus the possibility of essentially doubling your minutes. This encourages teams to put a man in the breakaway to maximize talk time.
Our man Bill also suggests there might be a texting/SMS option. However this would bring us back to the safety issue at the heart of the race radio debate. SHould riders really be texting while descending at high speed down the Alps?
And finally, as part of the UCI code of conduct, strict limits on profanity will be placed on riders and managers. SHould foul language be used, team will be penalized with a deduction in minutes. UCI President McQuaid says this will reaffirm their commitment to clean cycling.