Future Grand 6our routes could be shorter in total length to tempt more riders into riding the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana all in one season.
Last week, Tinkoff-Saxo team owner Oleg Tinkoff put forward the incentive of €1 million to the rider who wins all three Grand Tours in one season. This prize fund was mainly offered to recent Grand Tour winners Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali, Nairo Quintana and Team Sky’s Chris Froome.
However, in reality the likelihood of cycling’s elite being competitive over the entirety of the brutal season is unlikely. This hasn't stopped team managers and riders investigating the idea of potentially shortening the length of race stages to reduce the amount of kilometres ridden over a complete three week race.
Tinkoff-Saxo CEO Stefano Feltrin, who came up with the idea, has revealed that he has spoken to ASO, who organise the Tour and Vuelta, about the idea and suggested that Grand Tours could be reduced to 3000km from the current average of 3500km.
Eliminating the potential need to reduce the amount of race days that currently occur during the three week races.
Feltrin told Cycling News: “This isn’t a joke or a publicity stunt. We are very serious about it and we feel it is a proposal that will help cycling move forward.”
“More and more people are realising that professional cycling has to evolve and change if it is to grow and generate more income for everyone involved. Even ASO has understood this. If we want the sport to grow, we should all be innovative and creative, not conservative. There's no harm in coming up with new ideas and initiatives and talking about them together.”
The need for cycling to attract new fans and sponsors is visible for everyone to see after the dark years of doping which has led to the majority of non cycling companies to abandon the sport.
A new initiative could revitalise the sport and could mean Grand Tour stages are reinvented in a way that will attract a younger audience. This has happened with great success in cricket which has attracted younger fans after the implementation of Twenty over cricket which is a much shorter and family friendly form of the game.
This idea may not come in for a number of years due to the complexity and time it takes to organise Grand Tours years in advanced. The reduction in race route kilometres will increase the competition that already occurs from towns that want to accommodate the race route every year.
However, cycling needs as many sponsors it can attract at this moment in time and this may well come at the cost of losing some of the tradition that previous races have given fans. With riders no longer riding mammoth stages that are over 200km for consecutive days in a row to riders competing in shorter criterium stages in major cities.