With the UCI and several major stakeholders set to meet on Wednesday to finalise the reshaped post-COVID-19 race calendar, teams and riders are waiting in anticipation as they look to rebuild their seasons and start to select goals.
The Tour de France has already been given new tentative dates of August 29-September 20, despite questions about protecting the public and riders, while the Giro d'Italia, the Vuelta a España and all the one-day Classics are left negotiating hard as the UCI tries to shoehorn a glut of major races into just a few months, while not knowing how the coronavirus pandemic will evolve or whether major spring events will be allowed.
WorldTour teams such as Trek-Segafredo haven't raced since mid-March, and although most of Europe remains under varying degrees of a pandemic lockdown, squads have been able to consider their next steps once racing resumes. However, without a confirmed calendar, teams and riders remain in a holding pattern until a schedule of events is produced.
"We're still waiting for the official UCI calendar because without that it's very difficult to make a programme," Trek-Segafredo manager Luca Guercilena told Cyclingnews this week.
"We need to understand the new calendar, analyse it and then decide on the sort of protocols we need to use. Those can have impacts on the goals of each rider."
Trek-Segafredo are considering splitting their roster into mini-teams or groups once racing resumes. Each segment or group will take on a set number of races based on geographical boundaries. This move would ensure that if the COVID-19 numbers rose, or if a race was placed on lockdown in one region, then the team could still operate with two squads on the road.
"We might create two or three different groups and select the team based around specific groups of races. That will mean not reshuffling them race by race, like we do normally. It's complicated, though, until we have the race calendar in our hands," Guercilena added.
It is not just the three Grand Tours that need new dates, but also a number of week-long stage races in mainland Europe and the five one-day Monuments. The UCI has already stated that their own road World Championships will go ahead as planned in the autumn, but Guercilena believes that the sporting body needs to finalise the rest of the calendar as a matter of urgency.
Provisional calendars leaked to the media in recent weeks indicate that racing could resume with Strade Bianche on Saturday, August 1, with Milan-San Remo on Saturday, August 8. The Giro d'Italia is likely to be scheduled for October 3-25, with the Vuelta a España overlapping with the Corsa Rosa by a week. The Tour of Flanders could be held on October 11, with Paris-Roubaix on October 18, Il Lombardia on October 31 and Liège-Bastogne-Liège on November 8. All the races depend on the control of any second wave of the COVID-19 virus and decisions by individual countries concerning major sporting events.
Trek-Segafredo, which run both men's and women's WorldTour teams, have to be ready to adapt.
"If we keep the riders in specific and small groups, it will help a lot when it comes to travelling and logistics. Doing that gives you better control when it comes to health," Guercilena said.
"For sure, we have enough leaders to cover all the races, but what we need is the calendar, and from there we can decide what to do. It could be that we have an Italian calendar, a French-Belgian calendar and a Spanish calendar, so that's why having three groups would make sense. We'd create places where they can live and spend most of their time.
"It's about having control when we do start racing. We know that the authorities are going to have the final word on what happens and which races take place, but at the same time we still need to make plans and programmes. We need to be ready."
Respecting all contracts
Several teams have already announced cuts in wages and staff in recent weeks owing to the economic downturn and the impact of COVID-19 on their sponsors. So far, Trek-Segafredo have resisted the urge to slash wages or contracts. Another reason for the needed calendar, according to Guercilena, is because it will provide stability and certainty for the two teams' backers.
"We're respecting all the contracts and the teams' needs," he said.
"We'd like to make the analysis further in the season. I think that if later in the year, if we're able to provide good visibility to all our sponsors, then it makes more sense to look at the situation then, and not right now. Our goal is to respect contracts across the men's and women's teams 100 per cent."
At present, it's unclear how Trek-Segafredo will split their roster. Vincenzo Nibali was due to target the Giro d'Italia in May and then the Olympics in the summer. Richie Porte was set for the Tour de France in July.
With Nibali, Porte and the consistent Bauke Mollema, the men's Trek-Segafredo squad have options when it comes to Grand Tour leaders, but Guercilena doesn't expect any roster announcements until at least the end of May.
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