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Vuelta director: New dates represent “best solution possible”

Sports Desk, May 5 (efe-epa).- Javier Guillen, director of the Vuelta a España, said Tuesday that he was “satisfied” with the decision by cycling’s world governing body to schedule the Spanish grand tour for Oct. 20-Nov. 8 as it tries to salvage a season disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“After all of the uncertainty that surrounds the circumstances of this year, the best news is that there are dates,” he said.

“Our position on the calendar and in the set of races makes me think that we will have a good turnout. The best solution possible,” Guillen said following the announcement from the International Cycling Union, known by its initials in French as the UCI.

“It has not been easy to reach these accords on dates,” the Vuelta boss said. “Each side defended its own interests.

“The cancelation in Holland (the first three stages of the Vuelta were supposed to be held in the Netherlands) happened and we reacted to that,” Guillen said, explaining the Vuelta’s agreement to cut back the competition from 21 to 18 days, which won praise from the UCI.

Guillen said the Vuelta has reached out to the municipalities on the route of this year’s race to make sure they are still onboard with the project.

“I don’t rule out some variation because the change is significant with the new dates. If some (city) cannot host the Vuelta, we will replace it immediately, but they will be minimal changes,” he said. “We have substitute venues, but it’s clear that the 18 stages will be respected.”

And because holding the race in October raises the odds of encountering bad weather during the days the race spends in the mountains of northern Spain, the organization is working to prepare alternative routes for those stages.

Under the UCI’s revised competition schedule, the first five stages of the Vuelta a España will coincide with the final days of the Giro d’Italia. And a pair of one-day races, Paris-Roubaix (Oct. 25) and the Tour of Lombardy on Oct. 31, are also set to take place during the grand tour in Spain.

Acknowledging the “inconvenience” that comes with a compressed schedule, Guillen said that while the overlap with the Giro was not “ideal,” it was preferable to having the Vuelta start five days later.

The UCI World Tour season is set to begin Aug 1. and the sport’s flagship event, the Tour de France, is scheduled for Aug. 29-Sept. 20. EFE soc/dr

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