Professional cycling teams opposed to the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) proposed ban on earpieces announced on Thursday that they plan to boycott the Tour of Beijing in protest. The UCI banned the earpieces in order to break communications between riders in the field and team managers following by car in order to make the sport more exciting.
“The teams are united in their position on the earpieces. Cycling is a team sport and as such, communications are crucial for both the management and the cyclists,” said the AIGP, an international professional cyclists group. If the use of earpieces is not re-authorised in all professional cycling races by May 1, the teams will not take part in the Tour of Beijing (October 5-9),” threatened a statement from the AIGP.
The AIGP is also unhappy that the UCI sometimes denies them a voice in decision-making meetings in the sport. “We can’t do our jobs if we are not allowed to take part in (UCI) meetings. Being invited then rejected depending how the president of the UCI is feeling is unacceptable,” the AIGP statement said.
A two-stage earpiece ban at the 2009 Tour de France ended in riders staging a go-slow after teams claimed the ban made cycling, where mass falls are a common feature, more dangerous. Despite the snail’s pace set on stage 10 of the 2009 Tour de France between Limoges and Issoudun, the race culminated in a top-speed sprint and was won by Briton Mark Cavendish.