By Miranda Alexander-Webber
LA ROCHE SUR YON, France (Reuters) - Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said on Tuesday that discussions on reducing the number of riders per team in grand tours were still ongoing.
In November, Tour organizers ASO, who also own the Tour of Spain (Vuelta), as well as Giro d'Italia owners RCS and Tour of Flanders organizers Flanders Classics said grand tours would feature eight instead of nine riders per teams.
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Under the plans, put forward to improve safety and enhance the spectacle for fans, the biggest one-day classic races would be held with seven instead of eight riders per team.
Teams have not agreed to it, and the International Cycling Union has yet to rubber stamp the decision. The teams pay the cyclists and having fewer competitors in major races means riders racing less.
"Discussions are still ongoing but yes, I hope that in the future we can reduce the number of cyclists on the grand tours. Grand tours with fewer cyclists, we are in favor of that," Prudhomme told Reuters TV as he unveiled details of the 2018 Grand Depart in the Vendee region.
"We've said it for a while, more strongly the last time but clearly we are in favor of it."
The first two stages of the 2018 Tour will take the peloton from Noirmoutier to Fontenay-le-Comte and from Mouilleron Saint-Germain and La Roche-sur-Yon.
The third stage will be a team time trial around Cholet before the race heads to the Brittany region from La Baule.
(Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Alison Williams)