The first part is the 'Bruyneel' argument. Radioshack shouldn't have been left out of the Vuelta because a sponsor puts the money in and deserves to see a return on their investment. So who do you take out? Surely sponsors like Cofidis and Euskaltel who've given over a decade to the sport deserve to see a return on their investment too? Otherwise you're saying "we are taking your sponsorship for granted", which is a surefire way to lose them.SirLes said:Smaller budget teams should still be able to flourish and I would never suggest the removal of the wild card system but if a big company wants to put in a lot of money into the sport it is fair enough that they should be able to get some guarantees regarding publicity. Likewise a smaller low budget team with a regional or national sponsor does not want or need to be saddled with the responsibility of having to take part in races 1000s of miles from their home territory. Indeed that could cause them to pull out as they wouldn't be able to afford it anyway.
Of course you're right on the globalisation issue regarding teams like Euskaltel having to race in events like the TDU, which are of no value or interest to them, get little attention in their home region and in which they can play little or no part.
As a result of this, I suggested a three-tier system:
Tier 1: the top 10-12 ranked teams. These teams must be invited to any race they wish to attend.
Tier 2: rankings 11/13-30 or so. These teams are the 'wildcard' guys. They can be invited to any race, but their position in the race is not sacrosanct.
Tier 3: rankings 31 and below. These teams can be invited to .HC races in their home nation and .1 and .2 races elsewhere.
The points would be allocated for ALL races, with the more important races paying more points. The secondary jerseys would pay points, to end the ridiculous situation where coming 7th in a bunch sprint in the Tour de Pologne got you more UCI points than winning the KOM in a Grand Tour.
With this system, yes there's a bit of the 'elite club' of the top 10-12 teams, but it means that teams like the Schlecks, Radioshack etc can get their invites to the Tour without being a waste of a spot on other races if they so wish, or you have to work hard all year round to get into the top spots.
This also means that yes, the big money teams can push the little guys out, but there's still at least 10 spots at the GT that are up for grabs.