The UCI and Katusha - 19 is more than enough
Can the UCI pound a square peg into a round hole?
added team is already causing a headache.
The Giro d’Italia has already picked their four wildcard teams for the 2013 Giro, plus the 18 WorldTour teams. Now they have to add Katusha into the Giro, a team that hadn’t made the wildcard cut earlier, but are in due to CAS’ ProTour ruling.
The Giro has said they won’t remove one of the four wildcard selections.
Logically that makes sense. The teams have been selected and are relying on lining up in Naples. Teams rely on wildcard selection like a Christmas bonus - it’s not guaranteed, but some teams know they’ll get one.
Then there’s the logistical nightmare of having an extra team in the mix. Not only do you have the extra riders, but the extra rooms, team cars on the road, and what is manageable chaos could become a disaster waiting to happen.
Spanish journalist Laura Meseguer points out on Twitter, “So 23 teams & 207 riders for UCI World Tour races?” Things are going to get crowded on the narrow roads of Europe.
However, looking back from 2005 to 2007 there were 20 ProTour teams. The rub is in return for 20 teams the Tour reduced the amount of wildcard selections. For example in 2007 there were only two wildcard teams: Barloworld and Agritubel.
One would rightfully think that this type of logistics snafu might have been avoided with a bit of planning by the UCI. However, they’ve had their hands full with the Armstrong scandal and the dealing with the weekly doping skeletons that keep popping out of the closet. Add in the fact the UCI president Pat McQuaid is busy squabbling with USADA, WADA and any other organization with vowels. To quote the popular internet meme, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
In the end there will be no satisfactory result. We’ll have more riders (maybe?) in the grand tours which is good for them. The flip side to that coin is the logistical issues that come with that increase. Also, the UCI wasted more time and money on a situation that should have been decided in September.
As of this writing the UCI is respecting CAS’ decision and we’ll see how the Tour de France responds to 19 ProTour teams. Will we see 207 riders squeezing through many a French town in July? I just hope that it will be done safely.
Note: Following the publication of this article Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme announced there will be three wildcard invitations instead of four for this year's edition of the Tour de France.
Finally, I had almost forgotten all about Johan Bruyneel. He was supposed to have an arbitration hearing by the end of last year to decide his fate - banned for life or back behind a team car steering wheel. Now it’s February and the sacked RadioShack director hasn’t had his hearing yet, but is working on writing a book. On that note Armstrong in an interview with Texas Monthly said he’s waiting for some time to pass and he’ll write a book too.