Grand Tour teams to be reduced from nine to eight riders from 2018

Maximum number of riders in all races to be limited to 176

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

The sizes of teams in Grand Tours will be reduced to eight riders in 2018 as part of a wider measures to improve rider safety.

The move has been agreed by the UCI's Professional Cycling Council (PCC), and will see the size of the peloton in Giro d'Italia, Tour de France, and Vuelta a España reduced from 198 to 176 riders.

"The PCC also considered a number of topics centred on race safety and security," read a statement from the UCI. "In particular the size of teams taking part in the three Grand Tours will be reduced from the current 9 to 8, thereby reducing the peloton size to a maximum of 176 and assisting in efforts to ensure the safety of the peloton and the rest of the race convoy.

"In addition, it is intended that the maximum peloton size for other races in the UCI WorldTour and the UCI Continental Circuits will also be reduced to 176, with the regulations to put this into effect being submitted for approval in due course. These changes will be effective from the 2018 season."

The proposal is similar to that put forward by the International Association of Cycling Race Organisers (AIOCC) in November, which said that it wanted to reduce team sizes from nine to eight in Grand Tours, and from eight to seven in all other events.

This move from the AIOCC, which includes all the major race organisers including ASO, RCS Sport, and Flanders Classics, was rebuffed by the UCI at the time, which said that such a chance would need to be approved by the PCC.

In a separate move to improve rider safety, time gaps will be applied in stages expected to have sprint finishes only when the split between groups is three seconds rather than one, thereby reducing the stress on riders and reduce the risks that can be taken as riders try to avoid being on the wrong side of a split during a sprint.

This initiative had been tested at the recent Tour de Suisse, and will now be continued at the 2017 Tour de France.

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