UCI president David Lappartient has said he is in favour of introducing a salary cap in professional cycling to make the sport more competitive and prevent teams with the biggest budgets from dominating it.
Lappartient, who succeeded Brian Cookson as UCI president in September, told AFP that he envisaged a restriction on a team’s overall wage bill, rather than thee amount an individual could earn.
"We should be able to pay an athlete as much as we want, but if we pay a lot for one rider, we have a bit less money and that balances our strengths," he said.
"The aim is to have attractive races and not that a team has the best riders in the world and blocks the races.”
The latter is an obvious allusion to Team Sky, whose budget – £31.1 million (€35 million) in 2016 – is believed to far outstrip those of the next wealthiest teams, including BMC Racing and Astana and is double the €18 million that Lappartient says is the average budget of a WorldTour team.
That money has allowed Sky to attract and keep some of the best riders in the world and helped it dominate the Tour de France in recent years, winning five of the past six editions with its strength in depth often allowing it to control the race in the mountains.
Lappartient acknowledged it would be difficult to put a salary cap in place but he did welcome the introduction of smaller teams at races next year as something that would encourage competition.
Under measures voted through in September, teams at Grand Tours will have eight riders instead of nine and at other races there will be seven riders, not eight.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.