Ride the Puddles

How Should Jonathan Vaughters and AIGCP Deal with UCI Regarding Radio Ban?

Posted by bikezilla on February 26, 2011


Here’s a great article from “The Back of the Peloton”, regarding Jonathan Vaughters and AIGCP’s fight with UCI over race radios.

Great article, but wrong.

— The Short:

Back of the Peloton (don’t you love how blog writers aren’t really people, we’re the name of our blog?) thinks that JV and the teams’ union, AIGCP, should soften things up and use humor to diffuse the struggle vs UCI. He believes that UCI, having no sense of humor, will be so charmingly disarmed that they, in turn, will soften their stance and negotiate with JV and the teams that he represents.

— Or not. Here are the comments I left below the article, at somewhat greater length. Some of this I’ve mentioned before.

What teams (and riders) should do is to organize in truth. Then they should strike in earnest; refuse to ride ANY races until UCI agrees to meet with teams and riders and hammer out a compromise on radios.

People say that riders are instantly replaceable and that if the elite peloton refuses to ride that in the merest passing of a moment new riders will step in to fill the void. Really?

Do you think that ASO wants 200 2nd and 3rd division riders struggling to make their way through the rigors of France for three weeks? An all out rider strike would be a disaster for ASO and the Tour and other major races, like the Monuments.

It’d be like replacing all the top level teams in any sport with farm teams and players. Would fans show up in large numbers and support the game enthusiastically? Not so much.

UCI and Pat McQuaid ARE bullies. Bullies only understand one thing: your rock hard fist in their face.

Until now teams and riders have offered only girlie slaps. It’s like inviting the bully to torment you further.

I’ve asked JV a couple of times, via Twitter, if teams and riders are willing to escalate to a full blown strike. So far he’s refused to comment.

While his silence is frustrating, I understand it.

Once it’s out there, yea or nay, a can of worms is opened and those lil wigglers aren’t going back in the can easily.

UCI’s refusal to even have a sit down with representatives for teams and riders shows a complete lack of respect for both.

UCI had many options when it came to banning radios and my guess is that if they’d been less heavy handed and more reasonable, even the fact that they failed to consult with teams and riders would have been overlooked.

If, say, they’d eliminated any relay of tactics via radios, but put in place a system to use radios to convey safety and mechanical details to everyone concerned.

Of course, UCI and ASO did attempt a “let’s see” kind of test, removing radios from just 2 stages in last years Tour de France. Teams and riders responded to this test, this compromise, by throwing tantrums.

I suspect that if teams and riders had reacted in a less hostile and childish manner then, that UCI may have been a little more open to a parley at some point along the way.

Or not. UCI has all the power and they’ve demonstrated time and again that they are unwilling to share that power unless forced damned near at gunpoint to do so.

So maybe even if teams and riders had shown a bit of maturity and ignored the goading of lame duck rider Lance Armstrong to behave like a bunch of preschool children, things would still be exactly where they are now. We’ll never know.

However that may have turned out, that fact is that we’re now in a place where UCI is the bully on the block, mercilessly stealing the lunch money of all the other kiddies.

The only way teams and riders will ever get to keep their lunch money, is to beat the living hell out of the bully.

The only way to do that is to strike, not just here and there at minor races and not just until UCI threatens to come in and take their bus fare, too. It has to be a sustained effort, including all races, even the biggest, most important races and even vs other bullies, like ASO (especially ASO).

Until then JV, his teams and their riders can plan on spending a lot of afternoons crying to mommy that meanie Pat McQuaid shoved them against their lockers, punched them in the face and stole their pocket full of change again.

*UPDATE (Paraphrased, because I don’t have permission to use the full response):

Back of the Peloton responds by saying that there are a couple problems with my theory.

1. If teams strike, they’re likely to lose sponsors.

2. Because they aren’t formally unionized there is no insurance to pay riders in case of a work stoppage.

His response is actually better than that, so please follow the link to the article and read it.

My response:

As I said, “organize in truth”, become formally unionized.

I’d bet that many, not all, but probably a majority, of sponsors would back teams in this.

If teams and riders are hoping for a pain free solution, they’re dreaming. It isn’t going to happen.

UCI will continue to crush the life out of them until either their is no life left or until the pain becomes great enough that the the ugliness of a real strike, with the loss of pay, the loss of some sponsors (possibly even major sponsors) and the loss of some riders and possibly teams is acceptable.

UCI is not going to simply handover a portion of its power. It’ll have to be taken by force and it’s not going to be pretty.

An alternative is to formally unionize and have the ability and honest intent to strike, but for UCI to see how much worse things will be if things are allowed to deteriorate to that point, and capitulate for the good of the sport. But what are the odds of UCI putting the good of the sport before its own desire to maintain unlimited and unchecked power? My guess is zip.

What I would like most is for UCI to be entirely disbanded and a new organization to be built from the ground up, and simultaneously teams and riders formally unionize and the three entities (cycling’s controlling body and both unions) work together all the way up.

But that’s even less likely than UCI advancing any interest other than self interest.


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