Tyler Farrar has spoken against UCI ambitions to reduce the number of teams in the WorldTour after his Dimension Data squad was nearly demoted despite winning five Tour de France stages last year.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
21 Jan 2017 - 8:16 AM  UPDATED 21 Jan 2017 - 8:52 AM

Dimension Data following hot and lengthy debate was granted a two-year licence after the UCI modified a rule originally designed to reduce the number of teams from 18 to 17 this season.

“We had a fantastic season last year, we hit most of the goals we set for ourselves and then with a month to go in the season there’s this panic of we don’t have enough points, and we’re going to lose our licence,” Farrar recalled.

“It is kind of unfortunate the way cycling seems to go sometimes that everything is always last minute, every change to the structure of the sport comes in secretly and without any ability to prepare properly for it.”

Farrar is competing at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia this week where UCI president Brian Cookson also is. Cookson in a press conference on Thursday touched on the WorldTour reforms that have been enacted this year, describing them as work in progress.

Cookson defends WorldTour changes
UCI president Brian Cookson has responded to criticism of WorldTour reforms that this year will see two different participation rules employed in the sport’s top level of competition.

The number of teams that comprise the WorldTour appears to be fixed now for another two years but reports suggest the governing body has the ambition to reduce them to 17 in 2019 and 16 from 2020 onwards.

It’s improbable that all stakeholders in the sport, from the UCI, to some of its race organiser sparring partners, as well as sponsors, team management and so forth will all agree on whatever comes. There have already been multiple modifications to regulations introduce this year.

“The last thing we want to be doing is pushing teams out of the top level of the sport. We want to be bringing money and teams into the top level,” Farrar said.

Despite his position, the American did give some credit to the argument that a reduction in team sizes at competitions may contribute to safer race conditions. Key race organisers ASO, RCS and Flanders Classics moved to reduce team sizes in their events this season but were vetoed by the Professional Cycling Council (PCC).

“I’m not in favour of cutting down the size of the sport as a whole, but in each individual race if you want to reduce roster size I think it’s a valid experiment,” Farrar said. “All we can do is try it and after a year or two look at it rationally and say, yes it got better, or no it didn’t change anything. Until you do it, it’s all theoretical.”

Despite the stress that was associated with the late licence conundrum, the 32-year-old is motivated for another season with the team where he’s happily transitioned from a Tour, Giro and Vuelta stage winner to support rider.

“It’s been a bit of a learning experience for me since I came to this team, transitioning into that role. I still get it wrong sometimes but I’m starting to figure it out,” he said.

“I’m just trying to do everything I can to support the guys in these prep races, do the lead-outs, help position the climbers. Then in the classics, it’s all in for Edvald [Boasson Hagen]. I hope that he can get that victory we’ve been chasing for the last couple of years.”

Farrar is set observe a similar race programme to that of last season save for the now defunct Tour of Qatar, which he will replace with a block of training with teammate Nathan Haas in Australia before jetting to the Tour of Oman.