On Friday, race organizers ASO, RCS and Flanders Classics issued a press release where they announced their intention to have smaller teams in their races in 2017. In the grand tours, there will only be 8 riders in every team while there will be seven riders in their other races, including the monuments. Most teams have reacted angrily to the plans.
In an interview with NOS, Iwan Spekenbrink and Richard Plugge, team managers or Giant-Alpecin and LottoNL-Jumbo, have rejected the plans. According Spekenbrink, it is not about changing the rules, but about power.
"Normal the UCI makes rules which the teams and the organizers must adhere to. Now a stakeholder - the organizers - wants to do that. In an extreme case, the teams would also say: "The leader's jersey in the Vuelta a España now has to be purple instead of red. I'm afraid that it will soon turn into a compromise about the number of riders in a race.”
Plugge sees problems for the teams.
"Count the number of races where we have to go with one less rider. Then we would have had two, maybe three riders less in our roster for 2017. The total cost of this decision is perhaps ninety jobs at WorldTour level, also because we need less mechanics and soigneurs for example."
BMC team manager Jim Ochowicz is also unhappy with the plans of the race organizers.
“I am in disbelief that this type of action would be taken this late in the year,” he told Velonews . “We’ve been planning our rosters and training for months already, to come up with a strategy for our riders, for their training and preparation and racing. We’re ready to race in six weeks, and now this?
“I am not against this idea, it’s just too late for us to manage it,” Ochowicz said. “We can just barely get through a grand tour with nine. You lose one or two riders nearly every grand tour. I just don’t know how you could get through a grand tour with just eight starters.”
The UCI have made it clear that the size of teams has to be discussed by the Professional Cycling Council and that no changes will be made in 2017.
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