Pro cycling’s grand tours are getting a bit more crowded for 2021.
The UCI will allow the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, and Vuelta a España the ability to add an additional wildcard team for 2021, bringing the total number of teams to 23 for all three grand tours. In previous seasons the number of participating teams was capped at 22.
The news was announced in a wide-ranging release from the UCI on Thursday morning.
“The maximum number of riders at the start of the grand tours was exceptionally increased to 184 from the usual 176,” the release said. “This increase of eight riders will enable organizers, if they wish, to invite an extra team to their event under the wildcard system.”
The number of riders on a team remains at eight for each grand tour, which means the races themselves can invite an extra team.
Wasting little time, the Tour de France announced its team lineup for 2021 shortly after the news. In addition to the 19 WorldTour teams, as well as Alpecin-Fenix, which earned entry by being the top-ranked Proteam for 2020, the Tour will invite three wildcards: Arkéa-Samsic, Total Direct Energie, and B&B Hotels-KTM.
That decision opens the door for Nairo Quintana, Niki Terpstra, and other riders on the three UCI ProTeams to compete in the race.
In the UCI release, it was stated that the increase was for 2021 only. The move to add an additional team, the UCI said, was driven by the national cycling federations from France, Spain, and Italy.
The Giro d’Italia has yet to reveal its full lineup for 2021.