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“I’d prefer the idea that these three races are special … keep them as three weeks, two to five days longer than the others … on the sporting side, I don’t see the point to try to shorten them. Particularly i...

Photo: Sirotti














09.11.2014 @ 13:01 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Two of the highlights of the cycling season are the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana. If you cant win the Tour de France, then these are the two stage races you want to win. And both face the possibility of being shortened.


Nothing has been made public about this proposal so far, but with cycling due to enter new reforms as soon as 2017, some people like Patrick Lefevere, Etixx-QuickStep manager, want the Grand Tours shortened.


“Indeed, sometimes you see the best riders avoiding racing against each other, that is regrettable,” Lefevere said to Het Nieuwsblad. “But as the grand tours now are organized, it is not physically feasible for them to race all three … Whoever races them all has 66 days of racing over about 120 days. The solution is to shorten the Vuelta and the Giro to 17 days, or in my opinion, 15 days.”


UCI President Brian Cookson, the man who will be brining in these reforms, hasn’t yet given his opinion on shortening the Grand Tours or even if the idea has even crossed the sport’s governing body’s mind in a recent interview with VeloNews.


“We did a review of pro cycling and tried to come up with a solution that works as well as it can and for as many of the diverse interests as it possibly can,” Cookson said. “I think we’re at the stage now where there are too many race days at the top level, there are too many too long events, too many overlaps…”


“I think that there would be some flexibility, but I’m not going to say that I’d want them to be shorter,” he said.


“Everyone says, ‘I’m right and I’m not going to change my position.’ So there is a defensive mechanism that kicks in and we’re still working beyond that issue, but I think that by the WorldTour conference in December that we’ll have a revised and reviewed format,” Cookson said. “Most of what has been leaked is outdated information. We’ve got good working relationships with the teams, but there are always divergent views.”


BMC rider Peter Stetina thinks that there are ways of making the Grand Tours more appealing to riders, and shortening them may be one of those.


“I think there is room to tweak, ways to make the race more appealing. Pro cycling is amateurish still. [There] needs to be some reforms,” said Stetina to VeloNews. “I think there is room for improvement. There are so many races all over the world — the Giro has such bad weather. The Dolomites should never be raced in May.”


Stetina said October usually sees the best weather for racing, and suggested a Giro in June, the Tour in August and the Vuelta in October. “We wouldn’t have to start training until Christmas time, instead of Thanksgiving.”


But Team Sky’s new signing Nicolas Rpche disagrees, saying that Grand Tours should not be shortened in order to keep the races as special as they are.


“I disagree with shortening the grand tours, like if you did Paris-Roubaix at 120km, it takes the edge off the race,” he told VeloNews. Roche said he likes the idea of evolution and adaptation of the schedule, but that the big three stage races should remain."


“I’d prefer the idea that these three races are special … keep them as three weeks, two to five days longer than the others … on the sporting side, I don’t see the point to try to shorten them. Particularly in a grand tour, there is something crazy that happens in the third week.”


There is a definite opinion that change of some description is needed and ultimately, the man who will decide on what those changes are and implement them is Cookson.


“We’re making progress and I know that the media loves to make a big deal of these things, calling them disasters or whatever when things don’t get approved or sorted out right away,” Cookson said. “But it’s not really like that. There are a lot of stakeholders and points of view, so the best solutions come from talking those things through, rather than banging the table.”




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