MVDP & his team are denied a wildcard entry to both the 2020 Tour de France & Vuelta a Espana
The Flying Dutchman, Mathieu van der Poel has yet to announce his full schedule for the revised UCI calendar, though his goals will likely remain along the same track as before - taking aim at the rescheduled Classics - namely the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
These goals come as no surprise as his road-team, Alpecin Fenix, are denied a wildcard slot at the Vuelta a Espana, or the Tour de France, with Nairo Quintana’s Arkea Samsic team also missing out on a spot at the Vuelta.
Team sizes for Grand Tours to stay at eight riders.
A UCI press-release appeared to raise the chances of seeing Alpecin Fenix at the 2020 Tour, with the race being the Grand Tour debut for the 'Flying Dutchman'. But, contrary to reports in Belgium and the Netherlands, his team, nor any other team will be awarded an extra wildcard place for this years Tour.
The Tour de France, with rescheduled dates of August 29-September 20, will be contested by the 22 teams of eight riders already sure of a place, with no room to add extra teams. Some one-day Classics are rumoured to be reducing team sizes from seven to six riders and so help smaller ProContinental Teams, but apparently that will not happen at the Grand Tours.
Van Der Poel and Alpecin-Fenix had been lobbying for an extra place for several weeks, with race organiser ASO apparently keen to add them to the peloton. Their hopes grew after the UCI announced it would make an announcement regarding 'team participation rules' and 'rules concerning the number of riders per team at the start of races' on May 5.
According to several reports, the UCI was ready to reduce team sizes for Grand Tours from eight to seven riders, giving race organisers the chance to award extra wild card places to complete the peloton. That would have allowed ASO to award three extra wild card places and so see Mathieu van der Poel a chance to make his Tour de France debut.
However, it now seems the Grand Tour teams will remain at eight riders, with no extra wild cards awarded to ProTeams, thus ending the chance of Van der Poel of riding the sports biggest race in 2020. This coming after the Tokyo Olympics were postponed and the Mountain Bike World Championships were cancelled.
Last year, 22 teams of eight riders took part in the Tour de France for a total of 176 riders. If the number of riders per team were reduced from eight to seven, the peloton would be reduced to 147, freeing up places for 21 riders or three extra teams. However, the leading WorldTour teams would no doubt be against reducing team sizes to seven riders because it could reduce their visibility in the race and weaken the chances of the teams fighting for overall success.
All 19 men’s WorldTour teams receive automatic invitations to all WorldTour races, including the three Grand Tours. Total-Direct Energie earned selection for the 2020 Tour de France as the top-ranked UCI ProTeam from the 2019 season, while ASO awarded its discretionary invitations to Nairo Quintana's Arkéa-Samsic and Vital Concept-B&B Hotels.
With no Grand Tour on their agenda, Alpecin-Fenix and Van der Poel will have to focus on the one-day Classics and other stage races where they have already been invited.
We think it's a real shame not to see the Dutchman at those Grand Tours this year. However this could be a recurring issue for MVDP if if he continues in a ProContinental team like Alpecin-Fenix , as opposed to signing with a WorldTour Road Team. We have no doubt that the ProContinental team with roots in CycloCross allows MVDP to ride the multi-discipline calendar he favours, however it will probably mean he will consistently miss out on WorldTour opportunities and races. That said, we'll very much look forward to seeing him at the Classics.