Governing body says that only the Professional Cycling Council has the power to reduce team sizes.
“Whilst a potential reduction in team sizes may reflect a view held by some stakeholders, including some race organisers, any changes to the regulations governing men’s professional road cycling must be agreed by the Professional Cycling Council (PCC), on which the race organisers are fully represented,” a UCI statement read.
“This subject was discussed at the last PCC meeting in November 2016, and it was agreed to consider in detail the implications of such reduction over the coming months, with no change for 2017.”
On Friday, three major race organisers, A.S.O., RCS Sport, and Flanders Classics, issued a joint statement announcing that they would be cutting the number of riders per team from nine to eight in Grand Tours, and from eight to seven in other races.
However, according to UCI regulations, and as pointed out in the UCI’s statement, such a move must be agreed on by the PCC, a UCI committee that last met in early November, and includes representatives of race organisers, including Tour de France boss Christian Prudhomme.
“In UCI WorldTour events, the number of starting riders per team is nine for Grand Tours and eight for other events,” states article 2.2.003 of the UCI regulations.
“However, subject to prior approval by the Professional Cycling Council, the organiser may fix the number of starting riders per team at 7. The organiser shall request the permission of the Professional Cycling Council on or before 1st January of the year of the event.”
The decision of race organisers to reduce team sizes seems to have been generally welcomed by fans hoping that it would mean less domination by strong teams, such as Team Sky, in Grand Tours.
“I don’t disagree with the concept of smaller teams”, commented Vaughters on Twitter.
“But letting us know AFTER our planning and rosters are well in motion…Not considerate!”