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UCI cuts grand tour team sizes for 2018

The UCI announced Thursday that teams will be required to race with only eight riders apiece in grand tours starting in 2018. The governing body’s Professional Cycling Council (PCC) met in Geneva and approved this change as well as the 2018 men’s WorldTour road calendar.

Starting with the 2018 Giro d’Italia, teams will be limited to eight cyclists. This change applies to the Tour de France and Vuelta a España as well. According to the PCC, this change will improve safety and security. Teams currently start with nine riders in grand tours. The new rule will result in a peloton of 176 riders. Similarly, the UCI expects to limit all WorldTour and Continental Circuit events to fields of 176 riders or less.

BMC’s Jim Ochowicz has been one notable critic of this approach to peloton safety.

Perhaps coincidentally, the Tour of Poland announced Wednesday that teams will only start seven riders apiece in its race this season. “The Tour de Pologne, which has always been attentive to new trends, was already a pioneer in this one when some seasons ago, in 2013, we adhered to a pilot project in association with the UCI that lined up teams of 6 riders at the start,” said race director Czeslaw Lang. Tour of Poland is a WorldTour race that runs July 29-August 4.

The 2018 men’s WorldTour calendar is nearly the same as the 2017 slate of events. The UCI moved the Tour de France one week later to avoid a scheduling conflict with the soccer World Cup. The Tour will run July 7-29, 2018. Also, the Abu Dhabi Tour will be lengthened to five days. The Amgen Tour of California, scheduled for May 13-19, 2018, remains part of the WorldTour circuit.

Lastly, the PCC approved one slight change in how general classification times are calculated in the event of a split during a sprint finish. Starting in the 2017 Tour de France, time gaps will be assessed if a split is three seconds or more. Previously, the time gaps were counted if a split was one second.

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