The Olympics - Where Controversy Meets Technology

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07/31/2012| 0 comments
by Neil Browne
What's a professional bike race without a little bit of controversy? Photo copyright Tim de Waele.
What's a professional bike race without a little bit of controversy? Photo copyright Tim de Waele.

The Olympics - Where Controversy Meets Technology

What's a professional bike race without a little bit of controversy?

radios.

While the ear pieces are a common sight in the Grand Tours, they are not allowed in the Olympics. Some could argue that this allowed for a more exciting race. Sure, that could be a factor, but also the male teams were limited to five riders, the female teams to four riders. This made controlling the bunch for over 200 kilometers a difficult task. I've been pro race radios since the UCI started their campaign to ban them entirely from the sport. They convey important information to the riders such as road conditions and of course race strategy. If riders didn't have radios they were be a lot more signaling for a director's team car to come up to the bunch for instructions. Instead the rider keys the mic and gets the information without a car blasting up the side of the road.

I know there are people out there who don't like race radios (my editor here at RoadCycling.com for one) and wants them banned. I say the genie is already out of the bottle and you can't cram it back in. The technology is there to create a safer environment for the riders, so why not use it? The argument against having a single race organizer's race radio that squawks alerts is that there are too many different languages in the peloton. By the time the official spoke all the various languages to say, "There's a roundabout in 1 kilometer" the peloton would have already passed it.

That said, I did enjoy the Olympic road races sans race radios and thought the racing was exciting and dynamic in both the women's and men's race. Women's racing showed, once again that it deserves more respect than what it is receiving. The 2012 London Olympics also showed that while technology may make the bikes ride faster, it sure doesn't make them pretty.

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