There’s an argument between the teams and the UCI over the use of race radios, with the UCI wanting to ban their use in every race bar the World Tour calendar.
For me, there are advantages and disadvantages to race radios. Some say the radios allow teams to control a race. Writing for cyclingnews.com, Jonathan Vaughters said “the lack of radio communication was simply randomizing the outcomes of races” adding that a guest in the team car told him “Good communication increases the likelihood of the best team with the best rider winning“.
I’d agree with this. Yet I’d say that sometimes fans want a random outcome, we want to see a rider slip the relentless grasp of sprinters, to see a long range attack escape calculations made in the team car. Maybe sometimes we want to see a chancer on a small team have his day?
|Lady Luck is up the road|
Random can be good for spectators. Remember last summer’s Tour de France? The exciting points of the race came when riders crashed in the Ardennes, when the race crossed the cobbles of Arenberg, when Andy Schleck attacked, only to drop his chain. Or the Giro, when Nibali crashed on the strade bianche or the big breakaway on Stage 11 that owed its genesis to Vinokourov stopping to take his rain jacket off? And what is Roubaix but a festival of punctures, mechanicals and post-race “Shoulda Woulda Coulda” comments? Random is good.
Before you leap to the comments below, of course races are not decided by random moments alone and nor should they be. And plenty of good racing happens without unfortunate incidents. It’s just that an element of suspense can add to the drama. I fully appreciate that this can undo the plans of well-organised teams and that random outcomes can generate unworthy wins as well. It’s just that drama and tension make bike racing what it is for spectators.
Teams want predictability, they want to know that spending $X million = $Y million of publicity. That’s understandable but I quite like a little bit of chance and so too do the TV viewing figures. Extrapolating the argument to the ridiculous, if bike races were simply ergo competitions where a rider producing 6.32W/kg wins ahead of the guy with 6.29W/Kg then nobody would watch.
Finally, if random is good then this doesn’t mean we need to ban race radios. We’ve seen some fantastic races in 2010 with radios. Later today I’ll return to the subject of the race radio ban and the looming confrontation between the teams and the UCI.
Photo: Cycling Weekly