CPA and UCI considering expanding grand tour start sheets

Riders’ union exploring the possibility of adding two teams to all grand tours to help struggling squads

The riders’ union the CPA has proposed to the UCI that this year’s grand tours be boosted to include additional teams.

The move to include extra teams is a bid to throw a lifeline to as many professional cycling outfits as possible in a time when coronavirus has dented team coffers and led to a series of cost-saving measures.

“We are working so that the grand tours that are held do not have [a] limitation of teams, but rather increase the limit [to] 200 riders,” José Luis De Santos, president of the Association of Professional Cyclists (ACP) said Wednesday. The ACP acts as the Spanish delegation of the CPA. 

“Imagine that the Tour or the Vuelta could invite two more teams,” De Santos said. “There would be two teams that would have continuity for 2021, something that would be very important for cycling.”

The early-season racing stop has seen a number of teams indicate financial struggles, with Mitchelton-Scott, Astana, Bahrain McLaren and Lotto-Soudal all cutting or deferring salaries, and CCC Team suspending its activities altogether. The CPA recently stepped in to protect riders, stating that salary cuts would only be accepted on a case-by-case basis and with proof that contracts could not be respected. 

The latest move “is one of the things we are working on with the CPA so that we lose the least amount of jobs possible,” De Santos said.

The idea is the next in a long list of things for the UCI to think about as it works on re-structuring the cycling calendar. It has only been two years since grand tour teams were cut from nine to eight riders to improve rider safety.

“The UCI is studying the issue,” De Santos said. “The [race] organizers too, although we haven’t talked to them yet because now they are working on other things. But I think that both the UCI, the organizers, and the Association of Sports Groups would be in favor of putting two more teams in each of those races. It would be for the common good, not for anything else.”