Race radio ban delivers France a ‘miracle’ medal in Wollongong, says Cyrille Guimard

Former sport director of Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault defends ear-piece ban: 'Long live the competitions without headsets, at least we see a show.'

Photo: Con Chronis/Getty Images

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Ex-French national team coach Cyrille Guimard says France can thank what he called a “miracle” silver medal in the UCI Road World Championships to the fact that the elite men raced without race radio.

Speaking to Cyclism’Actu, the retired sport director of Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault said Sunday’s finale would have never happened the way it did if the peloton was racing with headsets.

“This second place is a miracle,” he told Cyclism’Actu. “It was totally unexpected from the French team. Something extraordinary happened, when you have seven riders who stop riding a kilometer and a half from the finish, who still had a good minute’s lead on the peloton.

“They stop so much that they’re caught cold by the peloton with 300 meters to go,” Guimard said. “No one even knows what place they’re sprinting for.”

Guimard, who raced and directed during the era before race radios, thinks that it produced something extraordinary in Wollongong.

Guimard’s comments come in the aftermath of controversy at the UCI Road World Championships, where some top names in the elite men’s road race criticized how race information was shared throughout the race.

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Both Christophe Laporte, who delivered what Guimard characterized as a “miracle” silver medal, and bronze medalist Michael Matthews said they had no idea they were sprinting for the podium.

Remco Evenepoel was clear up the road to win the title alone, but as Guimard pointed out, a chase group started to play cat-and-mouse in the closing kilometers thinking that they had a wide gap still to the reduced main bunch.

That hesitation allowed the Laporte-Matthews bunch to catch them with 300 meters to go, and turn the finale upside down.

Guimard: ‘Racing without race radios is extraordinary!’

Matthews galloped to third in front of home crowds Sunday, but he didn’t know it at the time. (Getty Images)

The ensuing confusion prompted strong reactions from top riders such as Tadej Pogačar and Wout van Aert.

Even the UCI’s top sport manager admitted that a better job can be done in providing more accurate and timely information to the riders, even if the UCI is sticking to its race radio ban in international competition on circuit courses at the worlds and Olympic Games.

Guimard, who raced and later directed teams before the use of headsets became prevalent, said the “miracle in Wollongong” is thanks to a lack of earpieces.

“That’s racing without earpieces, it’s extraordinary,” Guimard said. “If there are headsets, the chasing riders would have been informed by the sports directors that behind them they’re chasing at 70kph, but without the ear pieces, they get caught. So long live the competitions without headsets, at least we see a show.”

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