The professional riders' association, the CPA (Cyclistes Professionels Associés) is 'opposed in principle' to the UCI's decision to reduce the size of the men's peloton from 2018, though it is waiting to assess the cited safety benefits.
Last week the UCI formally approved the reduction in team sizes in all international road races, with a maximum of seven riders – down from eight – for all races save for the three Grand Tours, which will now feature squads of eight, rather than nine.
The CPA represents the interests of professional riders and it fears the decision will lead to teams cutting the size of their rosters and so a reduction in the number of employed riders.
"Our opinion is that there's a danger that lots of people will lose their jobs. In principle we are against it," CPA secretary David Chassot told Cyclingnews. "Maybe it's better for safety, but our opinion is not favourable if it would mean people out of work."
The push to reduce team sizes came from major race organisers, with ASO, RCS Sport and Flanders Classics coming together last year to announce the changes independently of the UCI. The UCI kept its regulations intact this season but it came as little surprise that the changes were enshrined by the governing body for next season.
The principal motive is said to be rider safety, though another factor is the notion that smaller teams make for less controlled – and consequently more exciting – racing. ASO's Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has spoken of the need to break the 'catenaccio' that has come to characterize the race under Team Sky's command.
Cofidis rider Luis Angel Maté recently questioned the decision, writing on social media that the number of crashes has much less to do with the size of the peloton as the design of the race route. "A reduction of riders in the peloton equals more athletes and support staff unemployed and fewer opportunities for youngsters," the Spaniard added. "Bad for everyone."
The CPA will consult riders and try to assess the implications, both in terms of rider safety and employment numbers, before deciding if it will make a stand, like it did over the issue of disc brakes earlier this year.
"At the end of the day, teams and employers are free to make their own decisions," said Chassot.
"Regarding safety, we need to see how much of a difference it actually makes. If there are no obvious benefits, and we see it will make a big difference to the number of riders in work, then we must fight."
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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.