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Eight-man Grand Tour teams a hard sell for team directors

At the presentation of the 2013 Tour de France route last month, race director Christian Prudhomme hinted that he would be open to a reduction in team size from nine to eight riders for Grand Tours, a proposal currently being considered by the UCI management committee.

"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," said Prudhomme.

Several team managers have since weighed in on that proposal, and while fewer riders in the peloton could potentially increase safety, having as many riders as possible at their disposal for their Grand Tour rosters was a luxury they were reluctant to rescind.

"What is certain is that with one rider less, the race will be much harder to control, especially for teams that focus on general classification," Katusha directeur sportif Valerio Piva told "The race would be more dramatic and could be more interesting. I don't think it would hurt the spectacle, even if the race would also take longer to start because everyone wouldn't want to miss a breakaway.

"But as directeur sportif of Joaquim Rodriguez, who's looking to win a Grand Tour, I hope it will not happen because he needs a full team behind him!"

Herman Frison, assistant directeur sportif of Lotto-Belisol, voiced his concern regarding teams with both GC and sprint stage ambitions.

"For us, it really would not be a good deal," Frison told "Our team in particular bets on several tables at the Tour de France with Jurgen Van Den Broeck for the overall and Andre Greipel for sprints.

"Knowing that we need two to three rider to form a train for sprints and a leader like Van Den Broeck also needs several riders at his side, with a man less in the Tour it would be very hard to manage. If we lose a rider early from a crash, or if one of our guys is sick, it would be very complicated with six or seven."

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