UCI president David Lappartient has said he wants to introduce budget caps for big teams like Team Sky.
The Frenchman gave no indication of when he would like to push through the budget limits on the WorldTour teams, but says that some cap or ceiling needs to be established to avoid races being “blocked” by strong teams.
“Let me first say this: I am against a salary cap for the riders, cyclists can earn as much as they want and teams have to pay as much for a rider as they want,” Lappartient told Belgium’s Sporza television.
“What I am talking about is introducing a ceiling for the team’s budget in general, which means that if you pay a certain rider a high wage, you will have less money left for other riders. That means you would naturally have the strong riders better divided among various teams.”
Lappartient took the office from Brian Cookson after winning the four-year term this September. He campaigned on preventing motorised cheating in the professional peloton.
He touches on a topic that other have brought up several times, often referring to team Sky with stars such as Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa, who will leave to lead Movistar in 2018.
“What everyone wants is that races are attractive,” Lappartient added. “People want to see open races instead of races that are completely blocked by a team with the best riders.”
Cannondale-Drapac’s fight this summer simply to find $16 million (£12.0m) in funding for 2018 highlighted the issue. On the other end of the spectrum, Sky dominates the budget game, running off £31.0 in 2016.
“The haves and haves not have grown even further,” former HTC-Highroad owner Bob Stapleton told Cycling Weekly.
The American ran the successful HTC-Highroad team with Mark Cavendish and many other stars until unable to find sponsors to continue the team for 2012. He now sits on the UCI’s management committee.
“You have a small group of wealth and teams who are dominating the sport and turnover in the mid- to lower-level teams that don’t have the money.
“I do think we need to level the playing field in terms of what it takes to be a competitive team. Even Alberto Contador said that budget caps and salary caps could make sense.”
Chris Froome’s salary is unknown, but estimates have it around £4 million. Sky’s other stars have multi-million contracts as well.
“It is in some ways ‘unfair’ the support we have in general at Team Sky compared to some teams, but if you take some of that away then what do you have teams striving for?” Froome said in defence this summer.
“Why do you try to work harder to get bigger sponsors and more backing to win more races? If you take that away then we are almost becoming communist. Aren’t we?”
In comparison to Sky’s top budget, French WorldTour team FDJ ran off of €10 million in 2016, AG2R with Romain Bardet €12 million and Trek-Segafredo also with €12 million.