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Managers react to team size reduction plan

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jim ochowicz

Race organizers ASO, RCS Sport and Flanders Classics issued a press release last week 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.

Team managers of Giant-Alpecin, LottoNL-Jumbo, BMC and Trek-Segafredo have rejected the plans.

“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.”, said Giant-Alpecin manager Iwan Spekenbrink.

“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.”, added Richard Plugge.

BMC boss Jim Ochowicz and Trek-Segafredo manager Luca Guercilena also have negative opinions on the matter.

“I am in disbelief that this type of action would be taken this late in the year,” Ochowicz 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. If the rules are changed by some due process, that is legal and binding, with something everyone agrees with, we’ll live by the rules … I also think it needs to be an open debate with all the real stakeholders expressing their opinions, at some point you come up with a [decision].”

Luca Guercilena said there would be other implications, such as some big names left off rosters for top races. “You would have to make a clear decision on your strategy, whether to go for the GC or for stages,” he said. “And that would mean there would be fewer stars in the big races.”