Team Movistar boss Eusebio Unzue has called for substitutes to be allowed in the Tour de France, while branding current regulations “inhumane.”
Teams are currently limited to eight riders, who are expected to compete for the duration of the three-week event.
However, injuries and illness mean the full roster rarely reaches the final stage.
Unzue says current conditions are putting competitors’ health at risk, and as such he would like replacements to be permitted, bringing cycling more in line with the likes of football and rugby.
Speaking to L’Equipe, the 68-year-old sald: “We really can’t humanise this? If a racer crashes, isn’t that enough reason for him to go to an ambulance, see if anything is broken, and in this case he leaves again the next day without having to finish the stage?
“We are not going to ask, like in football, that everything stops while the riders recover, but we must protect their health.”
Under Unzue’s plan, substitutes would only be allowed for riders who can no longer finish the race due to fitness issues.
He suggests that teams should be able to name up to an extra three riders on their roster, with replacements coming in to ensure competitors are not jeopardising their health.
“Today, for a rider who falls to be able to start again the next day, he sometimes has to ride 60 or 80 kilometres with a broken wrist,” he continued, “because he can only take exams once he arrives, after having suffered like an animal.
“Humanise the regulations. Stop being so crude, so overly inhumane.
“All the teams prepare with 10 or 11 riders, we leave two or three at home at the last moment, and if a rider falls, are you not entitled to any solution?
“Why not authorise replacements in the Grand Tours when a rider abandons in the first week?
“It wouldn’t be for technical or tactical change, of course. Why not try, test, let’s take a step forward and see if everyone finds it interesting. We need change.”
It will be the first time the race has not climaxed in Paris, due to its proximity to the 2024 Olympic Games.
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