Team Sky’s sixth Tour de France victory in seven years has left cycling desperately seeking ways to restore suspense to the peloton. But how can i be done?
Team Sky’s sixth Tour de France victory in seven years has left cycling desperately seeking ways to restore suspense to the peloton.
Sky’s implacable and monotonous domination, briefly interrupted by Vincenzo Nibali and Astana in 2014, has allowed the British team to propel three different riders to the top step of the final podium on the Champs-Elysees — Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and now Geraint Thomas.
“You can’t blame them for winning,” Tour director Christian Prudhomme said, comparing Sky to European football’s dominant club. “They’re a version of Real Madrid.”
They have “the best in each position”, said Romain Bardet, who was the best French finisher in sixth place.
“We have a team, a machine that has won with three different leaders,” Prudhomme said.
In an interview with Le Temps newspaper, UCI President David Lappartient revealed he is not opposed to having six-rider squads at the Tour de France in the future.
“We should go further with a reduction to six, I think, for the measure to be really effective,” Lappartient said when asked about this year’s team size reduction. “At seven, a team like Sky is still racing. At six, [minus] the leader, it’s only five guys to ride, and they would tire a little more. At the same time, it may take more teams to have a peloton of respectable size.”
Lappartient also said the UCI is considering other options to try to excite the racing further. “We will launch an attractiveness study because there are many aspects to consider. Should we forbid the headsets that kill the initiative and the power sensors that place the riders on monitoring? Should we rethink the format of the steps? We must analyze everything.”
Lappartient also calls for some kind of financial fair play.
“I’m against an individual salary cap. If a team wants to pay a rider 8 million euro, that’s not a problem, but I think we could regulate the overall payroll budget of the teams, to balance their strengths,” he said.
“Team Sky has Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome and Egal Bernal, three riders who could finish first, second and third at the Tour de France. However, in the interest of cycling it is better if the best riders are in different teams.
“This is the strength of the Giro d’Italia. With some of the best teammates resting for the Tour de France, the leaders are less protected and so quickly have to go head to head.”