Mauro Vegni is still hopeful of attracting the best Grand Tour riders to the Giro d'Italia in 2018. The Giro director, speaking exclusively to Cyclingnews at the Rouleur Classic last week, said that his dream was to see the top two riders from all three 2017 Grand Tours on the start line of the Giro in 2018.
The podium places in 2017 were occupied by Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), but neither they nor Tour and Vuelta winner Chris Froome (Team Sky) have announced their participation in next year's Giro.
Froome is certain to aim for the Tour and a fifth title in France, while Dumoulin has been coy on his Grand Tour plans for weeks, insisting that a final decision would be made after the Giro route presentation later in November. Nibali has been given time to heal up by his team after a recent operation but the Bahrain-Merida management would be keen to see their leader at the Tour for the first time since the squad's inception. Quintana has already stated his ambition of riding the Tour.
"We're still working on it," Vegni said when asked about the status of Froome and Dumoulin.
"At this moment I don't have a final 'no' or a final 'yes'. But from my perspective this is positive. In the past some riders have immediately said no. This means that they're still thinking about the idea of riding the Giro next year.
"I've been in touch with their teams and that of Nibali. I'm still hopeful that they will all come. My personal dream is to have the first and second placed riders from all three Grand Tours in 2017."
Open to discussing a two-week Giro
The 2017 Giro was arguably the best Grand Tour of the season with a thrilling time trial deciding the winner and final podium positions. Vegni could not have hoped for a better race in terms of twists and turns, and stated that his vision of giving the fans what they wanted while staying true to the race's roots had been key.
"Firstly, at the Tour I think that Chris Froome and his team killed the race and it felt quite flat. In my opinion the Vuelta has lost some of the key aspects of a Grand Tour. They're working a lot on creating a spectacle, a show, but they've lost some key aspects. I don't think it's right that a Grand Tour doesn't have sprint stages. It means you don't have the best sprinters in the world at the start. This has been happening at the Vuelta for a few years," Vegni said.
"You have to think about what people and want to see. Fans don't just want to see ten days of flat racing and they want to see something different every day. You need the right balance between the sport and spectacle."
While Vegni puts the finishing touches to his 2018 canvas – which includes a start and three stages in Israel – he has listened attentively as new the UCI president has voiced the option of cutting Grand Tours from three weeks to just two. In rather diplomatic terms Vegni admitted that he would be open to discussing the possibility but made clear that any change would need to be across the board, hinting that there should be no special treatment for other events.
"It's an option but it needs to be analysed and based on numbers. We have to evaluate the reasons for and against this idea. I'm neither in favour nor against it, but I want to see some facts first. What's clear is that any change should apply for all three Grand Tours. I'm open to discuss but of course shrinking to two weeks means that we'd lose one week of great racing, which is broadcast on television."