Cycling Team Boss Wants Substitutes ‘Like Football’ To Make Tours ‘More Humane’

Movistar general manager Eusebio Unzue says cycling cannot continue to be run as it was 40 years ago.

Movistar general manager Eusebio Unzue has called for cycling’s Grand Tours to be shortened to two weeks and teams to be allowed use replacements like in football to modernise the sport and make it “more humane”.

“All sports evolve but we continue to do the same things as forty years ago,” Unzue told reporters before the start of the Tour Colombia.

“Since I started in the 1980s, the rules of cycling have changed very little. I think it’s time to adapt.”

Among the changes Unzue suggested was the possibility of replacing a rider if a teammate pulled out of the three major Tours — Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana.

Unzue pointed out that on last year’s Tour de France, Movistar lost leading rider Enric Mas following a fall on the first day.

“Why not allow him to be replaced, at least during the first week, and continue with eight riders?” Unzue asked.

“We must make the rules more humane and less brutal, better protect the health of the riders,” he continued, pointing to use of substitutes in football.

“Today, if a rider falls, he must sometimes suffer like an animal to reach the finish and have the right to continue again the next day.

“Why not allow him to get into a car or an ambulance, have it examined and compete the next day if there is nothing broken?”

Unzue also proposed shortening the Grand Tours from three to two weeks to “allow the best to participate in all three and be competitive”.

“It would add to the spectacle to see the best racing against each other more often,” the 68-year-old said.

Although American Sepp Kuss won last year’s Vuelta after having ridden in the Giro and the Tour de France, it is extremely rare for riders to compete in the three major Tours in the same year.

“We all grew up with the epic idea of sport but we need more humanity,” Unzue added.