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Vuelta shortened to 18 stages, race will start in the Basque Country

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This year’s Vuelta a España will run for 18 stages instead of 21 and will no longer start in the Netherlands as planned, organizers announced on Wednesday.

The Vuelta was scheduled to begin on August 14 in Utrecht and finish on September 6 in Madrid, but the race had already been postponed to a date as yet unknown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Martin van Hulsteijn, the head of the Dutch organizing committee, called a possible autumn start “a bridge too far,” saying it presented too many practical problems.

The Vuelta organizers issued a press release saying they had been “forced” to take the decision by the reorganization of the cycling calendar announced by the UCI and a Dutch government ban on sporting events until September 1.

“La Vuelta 20 will not take off from the Netherlands,” the organizers said. “Due to the exceptional situation caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the organizing committee of La Vuelta Holanda has been forced to cancel the official departure of the race from the Dutch regions of Utrecht and North Brabant.”

The three Dutch stages have been dropped altogether, with the 18-stage Vuelta now set to start in Irun in Spain’s Basque Country, near the border with France.

The 2021 start has already been allocated to Burgos in northern Spain. Organizers said they hoped to start the 2022 race in the Netherlands instead.

Martin van Hulsteijn said that the later start for the race presented obstacles that could not be overcome.

“Moving three stages, on three days, through 34 municipalities with start and finish places in various places turned out to be a bridge too far,” he was quoted as saying in the Vuelta statement.

“For example, we did not have all the needed infrastructures at our disposal. In addition, a lot of road works were carried out around the 34 participating municipalities in the autumn.

“The impact would be too great. Even if you leave the desirability and uncertainty in corona time out of the discussion”

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