Lappartient keen to end Giro d'Italia and Tour of California clash

UCI president David Lappartient has suggested that the Giro d’Italia and Tour of California could change dates in 2020 to avoid the current May calendar clash of the two WorldTour races.

The Frenchman revealed that the 2020 Tour of California has been pencilled in for an earlier date of May 3 - 9, while the 2020 Giro d’Italia would start a week later and be held between May 16 - June 7. It is unclear if the Tour de France would move back a week, or start four weeks after the Giro d’Italia on July 4, or if other races would change dates.

The 2020 season marks the start of the next chapter of the men’s WorldTour series, with teams applying for the three-year WorldTour licences and the creation of the 20-25 race UCI Classics Series, where organisers, teams and riders will pool revenue and investment in an attempt to develop the sport globally. The UCI Classics Series is expected to dominate the race calendar between January to April and August and October, with the Grand Tours and other stage races dominating the summer months.

Lappartient revealed the potential date changes during an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, while attending the UCI Bike City Forum in Milan last week. He also said that the UCI test for the painkiller tramadol will now begin in March rather than at the Tour Down Under in January, with a simple pinprick blood test before and after races leading to a disqualification from the race.

The Giro d’Italia has struggled to attract some of the biggest names in the sport since the Tour of California moved to May. Peter Sagan has never ridden the Giro d’Italia and his personal sponsorship with bike brand Specialized means he is unlikely to opt for the Italian race while the calendar clash remains.

"We’re working so it doesn’t happen any more,” Lappartient said of the date clash. "I’ve already met RCS Sport and I’ll meet the American organisers in December: For the 2020 the plan is to push back the Giro d’Italia a week (to May 16 - June 7) and bring the Tour of California a week forward (to May 3 – 9), so its possible to ride both."

Tests for tramadol

The UCI committed to testing for tramadol after reports of abuse of the painkiller in the professional peloton and years of calls from the Movement for Credible Cycling group to ban it.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) monitors the presence of tramadol during anti-doping tests but has so far refused to make it a banned substance. Lappartient has insisted the UCI carry out its own medical checks for the painkiller, after suggestions the effects of tramadol can cause crashes.

"It’ll be banned under our rules," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The rule will come into force not from January 1, but I think, from March, in time for Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico. There are medical, technical and legal aspects we have to examine carefully with our medical commission. We won’t apply the WADA anti-doping rules, it won’t be an anti-doping test, we’ll use our health rules.

"The test only needs the taking of a drop of blood from a finger. It will be done before or after a race. Whoever is over the threshold will be excluded from the race or disqualified from the results if the test is done afterwards."

Lappartient was also asked about Christian Prudhomme’s call to ban power metres in races. The Tour de France director said power metres “annihilate the glorious uncertainty of sport” at the presentation of the 2019 race route. He was criticised even by some French directeur sportifs but Lappartient confirms the role of power metres will be looked at by a new commission that will suggest ways to improve the attractiveness of professional cycling.

The current 2020 reform proposal document created by the UCI includes a possible salary cap or maximum team budget. This is seen by some as a way to limit Team Sky’s current dominance of the Tour de France in the decisive mountain stages.

"It’s something that will be examined by the new working group that will soon be formed," Lappartient said of power metres. "There will be people from outside the sport involved, as well as journalists, technical staff, physiological experts and television producers. Their job will be to give the UCI recommendations and ideas on how to make the sport more attractive."

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