Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has admitted that he and his organising team have been considering increasing the number of wild card places they will offer to teams for next year's race. Speaking to the magazine of the French national federation, La France Cycliste, Prudhomme confessed that he has even considered selecting as many as 26 teams for the Tour, although 22 looks more likely.
"I can't say anything now, but we are certainly considering an expansion to 22 teams," Prudhomme revealed. "Sixteen teams are guaranteed participation, but the choice of four or six wild cards is extremely difficult. We will first wait for the final composition of the teams and their performance in the year before we announce our selection."
Prudhomme's annual dilemma over which teams to award the Tour's wild card places to has been complicated by the sudden emergence of new contenders and the departure of French outfits Bbox Bouygues Telecom and Cofidis from the ProTour. The two French teams are almost certain to get two of the wild card slots that will be made available, leaving the likes of Team Sky, the Cadel Evans-led BMC racing team, Dutch teams Skil-Shimano and Vacansoleil, and emerging French team Saur-Sojasun battling for the other wild card places.
Prudhomme has admitted in the past that increasing the number of teams riding the Tour is difficult not because of the increase in size of the peloton but because of the logistical problems involved, particularly finding accommodation for them.
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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