Teams should be allowed to use substitutes in the Tour de France and cycling’s other Grand Tours, according to Eusebio Unzué, the team manager of the Movistar team.
Unzué, who has been at the head of the Spanish team since 2008, said that teams should be allowed to bring in substitute riders to replace riders who crash in the first week of Grand Tours, and allow young riders to skip stages before returning to races if doctors believe they are in need of a rest.
“Cycling should show some humanity,” Unzué said, as reported by Spanish cycling website Ciclo21. “Because there is no option to replace anyone, we have kids destroyed doing stages of 200km in bad conditions.
“If there is no option to change that, why not consider the possibility of letting the doctors inspect them, and let the rider have two days of recovery when the doctors recommends it?
“I would also like to make it that riders who have crashed during the first week can be replaced, and have three riders prepared to replace the injured, as happens in any other sport.”
Watch: Tour de France 2018 route preview
Unzué’s comments come after it was announced that teams will be allowed one fewer rider in top races during the 2018 season, with eight riders for Grand Tours, and seven riders for one-day races and smaller stage races.
The 62-year-old said that although he and managers of other WorldTour teams had originally been opposed to the changes, he accepted the decision of the UCI. However he also said that if teams were forced to start three week races with smaller squads then measures needed to be put in place to reduce the rate of abandonments in the sport’s biggest races.
“The teams did not want a reduction of riders, it was a decision of the UCI at the proposal of race organisers. It is a decision I respect, but time will tell if it is right or not,” Unzué continued.
“I think it is good that the number of riders is reduced, but the thing is that the sport is hard and with the number of accidents we need to look for ways to make up for the loss of riders and continue on equal terms.”
Unzué also reiterated his opposition to the inclusion of the Paris-Roubaix cobbles in the 2018 Tour de France route, which he has previously described as being “too dangerous” for the biggest race in the calendar.
“None of the favourites are going to be delighted to see the pavé,” he continued. “It is not a matter of removing them or not, but nobody is going to win anything there. The issue is that a bit of bad luck can mean losing the race.”