Organisers of the Vuelta a Espana are expecting “the best” ever edition of the race this year, and fully expect it to go ahead in mid-August despite Spain being one of the worst affected countries by the coronavirus pandemic.
They may have a point. Should life in western Europe have returned to enough of a semblance of normality by then that pro racing can resume, there will be plenty of big-name riders eager to get out of their man caves and Zwift workouts to have a crack at the Spanish Grand Tour.
The race is due to start in Utrecht on 14 August, which would make the city the first to have hosted the all three Grand Tours, with the Tour de France having started there in 2015 and the second stage of the 2010 Giro d’Italia finishing there.
And with the Giro d’Italia postponed and the Tour de France likely to follow suit, if space can’t be found in the calendar for those races to be run in their entirety should competition resume towards the end of the season, the Vuelta could become the most significant stage race of a disrupted 2020 season.
L'Equipe reports race director Javier Guillen as saying that as things stand, organisers are continuing to work on the assumption that the race will go ahead.
“The circumstances are new, but our entire team is working with motivation, with the idea that the race will happen.
“In this difficult time, I can say that we are more co-ordinated and united than ever.
“We want to put on a superb 2020 Vuelta, the best in history,” he added.
Whether that will happen is anyone’s guess, with four and a half months to go.
More than 5,000 people in Spain have now died as a result of coronavirus and, as with so many other countries, the likelihood is that that will increase and put the health service under severe strain for months to come.
It’s understandable of course that race organisers want to see a return to normality as soon as possible, as does the UCI, with the governing body’s president, David Lappartient, outlining plans on Facebook this weekend for a rearranged calendar for the autumn.
Wishful thinking? We’d hope not, but being realistic, it’s difficult to see any road racing resuming before the season finishes in September.
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