The updated Vuelta keeps its excursions in France and Portugal –



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    La Vuelta a España 2020 a annulé son départ prévu aux Pays-Bas, mais le grand tour espagnol conserve deux excursions potentiellement perturbatrices dans les pays voisins.

With two international border crossings planned, there will be an additional risk of disruption to the peloton due to the possibility of travel restrictions which may be in place or arise unexpectedly in what is already a very unpredictable reality.

La Vuelta – rescheduled from October 20 to November 8 – confirmed its updated route as part of a revised professional cycling calendar revealed this week by the UCI. The reduced route from 21 stages to 18 will not include the planned plan started in the Netherlands, canceled due to the coronavirus crisis in Europe. Instead, the Vuelta will debut in the Spanish Basque Country in the port city of Irún on October 20.

However, unlike the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, which will both remain within the borders of their respective nations, the Vuelta maintains the stages planned in France and Portugal.

Vuelta director Javier Guillén said the race is sticking to its 18-stage course, but that changes may occur if conditions demand.

“I don’t rule out that there could be variations in stages, but the modifications will be minimal and will have substitutes,” Guillén told reporters. “The Vuelta will continue with 18 stages, no matter how many changes there may be to the start or finish. “

This year’s Vuelta route is unusually suspended in the northern half of Spain, sweeping first from the Basque Country to the Pyrenees with a decisive stage in France at the Col du Tourmalet. After the first day of rest, the route then passes from east to west, through the Cantabrian mountains, including the consecutive finals of the summits in Lagos de Somiedo and Angliru. After the peloton in Galicia, in the north-west of Spain, the route plunges into Portugal for the first time since 1997, with an arrival near Porto and a stage start in the north of Portugal before returning to Spain for the last stretch.

Despite the uncertainty of coronavirus blockages, Guillén said officials throughout the route have expressed interest in retaining their place in the Spanish grand tour.

“All the institutions have shown interest in hosting scenes,” he said. “Of course things could change. Our 18 stages, starting in Irún and ending in Madrid, will be maintained almost in their entirety. “

La Vuelta will leave Spain for several days. The first arrives in stage 6, intended to cross the Pyrenees from Biescas and to enter France to complete the stage at the top of the Col du Tourmalet in France on October 25, the same day as the Giro ends as well as at Paris-Roubaix. After a day of rest, the Vuelta entourage returns to Spain for stage 7 from Vitoria.

The second arrives on November 5 when stage 15 leaves Galicia in northwestern Spain and dives into Portugal, spending the night in Porto. The next day’s stage 16 starts in Viseu and returns to Spain to finish in Cuidad Rodrigo. From there, the penultimate stage ends at the top of the Covatilla climb, and the Vuelta ends in Madrid on November 8.

Teams will be wary of a possible rerun of what happened during the UAE tour in February, when riders and staff were locked up in hotel rooms, sometimes for weeks, during ‘a sudden coronavirus outbreak.

Despite the overlap with the Giro and the loss of starting stages in the Netherlands, Guillén expressed satisfaction with the place of the Vuelta in the new calendar.

“Things ended well,” he said. “It was the best possible solution.”

As it stands, the Vuelta is the only major European race that will attempt to cross borders during the coronavirus pandemic. Under normal conditions in Europe, this is not a problem with the opening of borders across the Schengen area. However, with lockout regulations varying from country to country within the EU area, there is a risk of travel difficulties and inconsistent restrictions in the months to come.

In this respect, the Vuelta route stands out from its Grand Tour peers.

This year’s Tour de France route (from August 29 to September 20) remains largely unchanged and will take place entirely in France as planned. The Giro d’Italia (October 3-25) will not start in Budapest as originally planned, and officials confirmed on Thursday that the major Italian tour will take place entirely within Italian borders. The starting stages for the Giro have yet to be revealed, but the Giro is slated to start in southern Italy, possibly Sicily.

Another factor regarding the adjusted Vuelta dates is the weather. The Vuelta 2020 remains entirely in the northern half of Spain, and sees stages over 2000 meters in the Pyrenees. The route also includes stops at Lagos de Covadonga, Angliru and Covatilla, all of the high-altitude peaks that could be submerged in snow until the end of autumn.

One of the reasons for the Giro-Vuelta overlap was to give the Spanish race an extra week in the best conditions at the end of October with the hope that the weather would continue until the final. Initially, there was a discussion about starting the Vuelta after the end of the Giro, but that would have pushed the Spanish tour to the end of November and probably would have forced a major redesign of the stages.

Guillén said the Vuelta must remain flexible and be ready to adapt to all the conditions of the last hour, but expressed confidence that the rescheduled Vuelta is in good position on the calendar.

“There are always alternative scenarios,” said Guillén. “This is something we have to take into account because the weather in August and September is not the same in October and November. We will start working with the main plan, not the alternative. We will reconsider things when we get closer and we will see how things are going, but for now, it is not worth wasting time. “



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