Cycling: Cookson open to idea of smaller Tour de France teams


RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Smaller teams could be one way of spicing up the Grand Tours, Brian Cookson, president of cycling’s governing body UCI, said on Saturday.

The Olympic road races in Rio produced two epic races, full of incidents and attacks and were both decided in the last kilometer with Anna van der Breggen snatching the women’s race and Greg Van Avermaet the men’s after last-ditch chases.

A maximum of four riders were eligible from any one nation, meaning the kind of control of the peloton enjoyed by Team Sky at the Tour de France was not possible.

Grand Tours allow nine riders per team and Clarkson said he “did not rule out” seeking ways to reduce team sizes.

“That’s one interesting lesson we can learn from the Olympic road race here,” he told reporters at Rio’s velodrome.

“The smaller size of the teams led to much more unpredictable racing and it’s something we want to discuss with the teams, although the bigger teams would probably object.

“There are pros and cons but it’s not something I would rule out,” Cookson said.

“But let’s move towards it gradually and with consent and not try to force it and cause problems.”

Cookson said salary caps to reduce the spending power of the likes of British outfit Team Sky, who have won the Tour de France four times in the last five years with Chris Froome triumphing on three occasions, would be hard to enforce.

“Teams are registered in different countries, different jurisdictions, different tax regimes,” he said.

“Certainly I would like to see more equality among the teams in terms of budgets, but whether we could force that is another matter.”

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Susanna Twidale)

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