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Following a furore over what was considered a dangerous course for Saturday’s Vuelta a España team time trial, the race organisers have backed down and agreed to scrap the general classification element of the test.
On Thursday several riders highlighted the hazards, with Tour de France winner Chris Froome highlighting sand sections on the 7.4 kilometre course and also narrow stretches. Sky team-mate Nicolas Roche and Movistar’s Rory Sutherland also red-flagged the issues.
This led to the UCI undertaking to meet organisers, commissaires and representatives from teams and riders to discuss the issue. It also led to incredulous comments such as one by Robbie McEwen.
— Robbie McEwen (@mcewenrobbie) August 21, 2015
The outcome of the pressure for a rethink has now become clear, with Spanish website Biciciclismo carrying a statement from the organisers.
That statement reads as follows:
“The Technical Jury, having received the concerns of teams and riders and after an inspection of the course with the technical director of the race, and after obtaining the agreement of the UCI has decided:
1. The stage will be held on the planned route.
2. The recorded time will count for the team classification and not for the individual general classification.
3. At the end of the stage the team that recorded the best time will be presented to the protocol.”
The latter presumably means it will appear on the podium.
The compromise will likely be greeted by the general classification contenders, although some will rue the lost chance to gain time over rivals had the course been a safe one.
Watch the GCN video below to see the controversial route.
The team’s association AIGCP has released a statement about the decision.
“The AIGCP welcomes the decision of the UCI to annul the time differences in tomorrow Team Time Trial towards the general classification and not have the team time trial contribute World Tour points. It is the outcome of a meeting about the safety of the team time trial course between UCI, CPA (riders’ association) and the AIGCP, yesterday evening and which was respected by Unipublic (organiser of the Vuelta a España). AIGCP appreciates the consultation amongst stakeholders which took place which led to this decision based on consensus amongst the stakeholders.
“Although teams invest a lot of time and energy in this discipline, they see that the safety of the riders is their top priority.”
It added that it would take measures to try to ensure that such a situation doesn’t reoccur in the future.