Vuelta decides planned Dutch start is 'bridge too far'
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This year's Vuelta will not start in the Netherlands as planned, organisers of one of cycling's Grand Tours announced on Wednesday.
The Vuelta, or Tour of Spain, 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 organising committee, called a possible autumn start "a bridge too far," saying it presented too many practical problems.
The Vuelta organisers issued a press release saying they had been "forced" to take the decision by the reorganisation of the cycling calendar announced by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and a Dutch government ban on sporting events until September 1.
"La Vuelta 20 will not take off from the Netherlands," the organisers said.
"Due to the exceptional situation caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the organising 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 statement gave no indication of where the race would now start. The first of the 18 stages in Spain this year is currently due to begin from Irun, on the French border.
The 2021 start has already been allocated to Burgos in northern Spain.
Organisers said they hoped to start the 2022 race in the Netherlands instead.
Martin van Hulsteijn, director of the organising committee of "La Vuelta Holanda" 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".
© 2020 AFP