Monday, July 13, 2009

race radios

Since everyone else is (like how I said that like those dudes are my peers?), I thought I'd also weigh in on the race radio issue:

Lance Armstrong:

"I don't agree with it. I think that technology evolves, the bike evolves, the training, the diet, everything evolves… the fabrics that we wear. Look at the cameras, the microphones, the transponders on the bike… all of it has evolved."

Logic inconsistent with the reality of the sport. Like it or not, Lance, you play at a sport where tradition rules the day. And the UCI has a rulebook full of strange rules to protect it. So, while technology does change things, there are countless examples of technological advances that have been rejected to maintain a something of the traditionalism of the sport (wheel size, bike shape, handlebar configuration, etc.). Just because something can be done doesn't make it worth doing.

Bjarne Riis:

"The way I see it, it puts a big risk on to the teams. Our sponsors put a lot of money into this team, and to win the Tour de France."

Uh, sure. But if the radio ban generates interest, and makes the racing more exciting (it may not, but that's the hypothesis, and the reason for the test), then the sponsors are going to be better off, not worse. Even if your guy loses.

Michael Rodgers:

"It’s not such an issue for the more experienced guys in the race, but there are a lot of guys who grew up with radios as juniors, under-23s and professionals, for their entire careers, and they are just robots. If there’s not someone making a decision for them, they don’t know what to do. So I think it’s a good way to stimulate the younger riders."

Yeah, I think so too. Let's make the sport about decision-making as well as fitness. Every rider a tactician. As a fan, I like it.

Matt White:

"I’d rather we banned radios. I don’t mind if we lost radios altogether. We go through the stage everyday in the morning, and what I am telling them on the radio is only what I’ve told them in the morning, just reminding them."

Hmm... Matt sheds some light on the issue. Makes it sound like those that oppose the radio ban are motivated by sheer laziness...not being willing to study out the stage in detail in the morning. Interesting.

Stjin Devolder:

"Nobody has the experience to ride without the radios.... It’s something they did 10 or 15 years ago. Now it’s two stages here at the Tour, and the stages are pretty difficult. I think it will be a different kind of racing. Different results, also. For everybody, and for safety, I think it’s better with the radios. Now it’s pretty easy to know everything from the car and what position the breakaway is and if you have to do it yourself you have no information you will react on situations later than you would react with radio."

Devolder, oddly, has made a powerful argument for banning radios, even while opposing the ban.

Dave Z.:

"For all those people that say it’s a safety issue, I think it creates more of a frenzy in the peloton than anything. If a right-hand turn is coming up, the directors tell 150 guys to get to the front at the same moment. Otherwise we’d just take the right-hand turn and be done with it. I think it will be something to try out."

Open-minded Dave Z. Let's try it out. See how it goes. Re-evaluate. Sounds perfectly reasonable.

Dave Z. also said:

"It would be cool if they eliminated all the cars and spare bikes and we raced with tubes and things like that, but that’s probably another kind of racing."

Perhaps after he retires he'll be taking up mountain bike marathoning? But I like where this is going. Dave seems to understand the irony of bicycle racing being disturbingly consumptive of fuel. And perhaps a bit troubled by it. But, it's how he makes a living... Whaddya gonna do?

Marc Sargeant:

"In my opinion it’s going backwards. We have to go with our (era), and in every sport it’s a habit of coaching to give information to your athletes constantly. If you are taking that away it can even be dangerous. Certainly it’s a new way of thinking and riding for this generation. (Some say radios have made racing less dynamic), but if you are managing a team you want to be active in it."

I find this comment particularly revealing. Marc's opposed because without a radio he doesn't get to play, he doesn't have as active a part. Marc doesn't want to give up power.

My guess is Marc manages several fantasy Tour teams.

Tom Boonen:

"I don’t really have an opinion. I think it’s pretty stupid to even think about it."

Tom, that word you used. "Opinion." It doesn't mean what you think it means.

Johan Bruyneel:

"I don’t think any argument justifies this. We have a lot of arguments to say we want to use the radios every single day, and against that I don’t see any arguments that make any sense."

As I read this I pictured Johan running around in circles with his hands over his ears yelling, "La, la, la, la... I can't hear you. I can't hear you. There are no arguments for the race radio ban. I can't hear you. La, la, la, la..."

Johan is obviously also concerned about giving up power. It seems obvious that radios benefit the favorites, the strong teams. That should be reason enough to give them up.

Alberto Contador:

"I am against taking away the radios, because without them, a fall or a puncture could cause the strongest rider to lose the race."

I was cheering for this dude to win the Astana feud...until now. But this is pure douchebaggery. Want to be assured the strongest athlete wins? Do triathlon. Cycling is a sport, and in sports you've got to be able to win ugly. The underdog always has a chance. And that's what makes it interesting (and occasionally exciting).


MTN said...

I agree with your assessment of contador's thoughts, especially your use of the term "douchebaggery."

He sounds like a whiny Park City parent who thinks their child is somehow entitled to the victory.

Anonymous said...

In some ways this issues shares themes with modern football versus the old school. I love the way that highly complex offensive and defensive schemes called in from the ivory towers have made football such an intellectually challenging game, but I am sad that this takes away the feasibility of a quarterback drawing up a scheme in the dirt during in the fading seconds to win the game.

In the same way, race radio potentially allows the employment of more complex strategies, but it takes away the uncertainty of where the breakaway is and the personal element of a rider winning through his and his teammates own cunning. I am glad that the Tour is experimenting with a few days of abstinence, and think that ultimately that might be the best compromise. I also think it might be a reasonable compromise to allow teammates to talk to each other, but not their directors.