Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has said that he would welcome plans to reduce the size of teams at the race in 2013.
The UCI’s management committee holds a special meeting on Friday to discuss the fall-out to the Lance Armstrong affair, and it is understood that one of the proposals under consideration will be a reduction of team sizes in the Grand Tours, from nine riders to eight.
“We wouldn’t complain about having one rider less on each team, mainly as a matter of security but also so that the race might be a little less deadlocked,” Prudhomme told AFP at the presentation of the route of the 2013 Tour in Paris on Wednesday.
Such a measure would reduce the Tour peloton from 198 to 176 riders, and Prudhomme said that it was a more palatable option than simply inviting fewer teams. In 2013, the 18 WorldTour teams receive an automatic berth, while ASO will distribute four wildcard invitations. In 2012, three of the four wildcard slots went to French teams in order to ensure a certain quota of French riders in the field.
“You also need to have a link with the territory you pass through,” Prudhomme said. “We always play on national preference in the races that we organise, French teams in France, Belgian teams in Belgium.”
Prudhomme also confirmed that there will be no time bonuses at the Tour de France in 2013, while there will again be just one intermediate sprint per stage per stage in the points competition.
Rider confessions came too late says five-time Tour winner
Former Tour de France winner Eddy Merckx has told the Belgian press that he is "sickened" by the events that have surrounded disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong after details of systematic doping at the US Postal team were revealed in USADA's Reasoned Decision report.
Arguably the greatest cyclist of all time, Merckx says those involved in providing the authorities with information should have done so sooner - coming clean and admitting their errors of the past comes too late says the once proud Armstrong supporter.
"I'm angry at the riders for speaking to investigators," Merckx said on Le Soir.
"Damn it, that they speak up at the time, at least that would be useful. Afterwards is too late. If a rider is concerned about questionable practices, it's his duty to speak up for the good of others."
Merckx had previously expressed his support of the former Tour winner however, with news the UCI handed Armstrong a lifetime ban in addition to stripping his seven Tour de France wins, the Belgian is left deeply disappointed with the state of the sport.
"Lance has been very correct all through his career," Merckx had told La Dernière Heure. "What more can he do? All of the controls that he has done - over 500 since 2000 - have come back negative. Either the controls don't serve any purpose or Armstrong was legit. The whole case is based on witnesses, it's deeply unjust."
Commenting after the UCI's release earlier in the week, Merckx said: "I'm sick, only for my sport. I...
Asked what he thought of such a possible ‘gain’ in placings, Escartín said, “I’ve no idea what they will do about the Tour’s podiums, but for me, I’ll always be third in that race.”
“It was over ten years ago, for goodness sake. I wasn’t even married.”
Escartín is one of a handful of top three finishers from the Armstrong era never to be linked to any doping issues. After a string of top ten places in the Tour, the 1999 race, when he won a stage in the Pyrenees, was his best ever performance.
“I don’t want to finish second or first” he added. “It was all a long time ago and however much they want to, they can’t change history. I was third and that’s what counts.”
Formerly one of Spain’s top climbers, who twice finished second in the Vuelta, Escartín would not be drawn on whether he thought Armstrong was guilty or innocent, but said, “it doesn’t seem fair to me that after so many years and having had hundreds of tests, they now take away all his titles.”
Escartín, who now works with the Vuelta organization, said he believed that cycling has “finally touched bottom – and all this after Festina, too. Cycling is a great sport and not as dirty as some would believe. In the last Tour de France they did thousands of tests and there was only one positive. These days, if...
NRS leader Davison to miss race in preparation for track goals
The Australian National Road Series has been a close fought battle this year with a number of teams including the Budget Forklifts squad vying for stage wins and overall tour honours. The team has proved its ability to challenge last year's dominant Genesys Wealth Advisers squad across all terrains but with Grafton to Inverell coming up this weekend, there's plenty to gain and lose at the final NRS race of the season.
Budget Forklifts will be without current NRS leader Luke Davison but the team has known he would be absent for a number of months. Team director Cameron Watt says the loss of Davison due to track commitments won't affect team tactics. The goal at every NRS round has been to win and if Davison holds on to claim the individual NRS title despite missing the race then "so be it."
"Our attitude from day one is to go into each round of the NRS aiming to win that race. This weekend is no different. We are going there to win and if we win the jersey at the end of the year then it's a bonus. We would be just as happy to see Mark O'Brien win Grafton and if Luke gets the jersey too then so be it," Watt told Cyclingnews.
"I think it's the only attitude we could have taken with the tiering of the races. I think that has lessened the title a little bit. We said we would target each race to win and coming up to the end of the year we are pretty happy with how we've gone."
"We just want to win Grafton because of how monumental it is on the calendar. To win and have that on your palmares is a massive thing."
The team will head to Grafton with a number of riders capable of winning the 228km race. O'Brien and Michael Cupitt have proved themselves at past editions and...
Mark Cavendish, who will be riding under the banner of Omega Pharma-QuickStep in 2013, is hopeful that the 2013 Tour de France will give him the opportunity to finally pull on the yellow jersey.
With the Tour's Grand Départ taking place on the island of Corsica, the 200km opening stage between Porto-Vecchio and Bastia will be the first occasion since 1966 that a sprinter can wear the yellow jersey. Cavendish has already got his eye on the prize.
"The first stage should be a sprint and I've never had the opportunity to wear the yellow jersey, so it'll be nice to try for that, and then at the end of the Tour there's a spectacular finish in Paris which has a few changes on the final circuit," he told TeamSky.com.
Cavendish backed up his green-jersey-winning performance in 2011 with fourth this season riding for Sky, winning three stages along the way. He was also named by L'Equipe as the best sprinter to have contested the Tour de France. Remarkably, he is also unbeaten on the Champs Elysees since 2009.
"We'll go all the way around the Arc du Triomphe on the laps, which is a nice way to finish the Tour next year," he said. "I'm definitely looking forward to it."
Meantime, Cavendish said he respected the actions of Great Britain teammate David Millar and former directeur sportif Rolf Aldag for having confessed to doping.
"These guys care about the sport," he told the BBC. "They ruin their reputation to move the sport on, but other people care more about themselves."
As a passionate campaigner for clean sport, Cavendish said that he felt it "unfair" that riders like himself now had to be asked...
Inaugural experience provided a "steep learning curve", says Bannan
Orica-GreenEdge will be once again chasing individual opportunities in their second Tour de France appearance.
The team's general manager Shayne Bannan was speaking following Wednesday's 2013 Tour de France presentation in Paris, explaining that Orica-GreenEdge would be looking to make an impact on the year's biggest race.
"It certainly promises to be a fantastic bike race," said Bannan. "It's probably significantly harder than this year's edition, but it definitely offers a lot of great opportunities for us."
The Australian-registered team came away from their inaugural showing at the Tour this season without a win, and with green jersey-hopeful Matt Goss' essentially robbed of a chance to take on Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) when he was docked 30 points for a sprint deviation on Stage 12.
In 2013, the team will be looking to get off to an early ascendency with both sprint stages and a team time trial offering the best opportunities given Orica-GreenEdge's objectives.
"The set-up of the first week suits our ambition of trying to take our first yellow jersey," said Bannan. "We obviously have our eyes on the stage four's team time trial, and it means we will need to be up there from the beginning. Over the course of three weeks, there will be quite a few opportunities to hunt for stage wins and potentially one of the other jerseys for some days."
Of the three Grand Tours in 2012, the Vuelta a España proved to be the team's most-successful with Simon Clarke claiming a stage win en route to the Mountains Classification victory. In May, Goss claimed the team's first Grand Tour stage win...
"You are the epitome of the word corruption" alleges former Tour winner
In a brash letter addressed to Pat McQuaid, former Tour de France winner Greg LeMond has demanded the UCI President resign from his position. LeMond posted a copy of the letter on his personal Facebook page and is frank in offering his opinion on the state of the UCI, McQuaid and honorary UCI president Hein Verbruggen. LeMond's actions come in the wake of USADA's report into widespread doping by Lance Armstrong and his teammates at US Postal.
"I want to tell the world of cycling to please join me in telling Pat McQuaid to f##k off and resign," LeMond wrote. "I have never seen such an abuse of power in cycling's history - resign Pat if you love cycling. Resign even if you hate the sport."
The UCI confirmed the lifetime ban of Lance Armstrong and stripped him of his seven Tour de France wins earlier this week however, LeMond states McQuaid knew "damn well what has been going on in cycling, and if you want to deny it, then even more reasons why those who love cycling need to demand that you resign."
LeMond does not blame the UCI as an entity but rather the influence of McQuaid and Verbruggen at the sport's governing body. The American states the main concern in cycling in not doping but rather corruption.
"The problem for sport is not drugs but corruption. You are the epitome of the word corruption," LeMond writes.
"Pat in my opinion you and Hein are the corrupt part of the sport. I do not want to include everyone at the UCI because I believe that there are many, maybe most that work at the UCI that are dedicated to cycling, they do it out of the love of the sport, but you and your buddy Hein have destroyed the sport."
"As you get older to start to realise Father Christmas doesn't exist"
This year's Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins (Sky) discusses the state of cycling in the aftermath of USADA's case on Lance Armstrong and says a confession is unlikely from the rider who has been stripped of his seven Tour de France victories.
There's plenty of anger surrounding the case and subsequent information that has come to light however, Wiggins insists the sport is no longer how it was despite the younger generation taking some of the blame for what happened in the past.