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Dutch start to 2020 Vuelta a Espana cancelled

New postponed autumn dates impossible for city of Utrecht

Joe Robinson
29 Apr 2020

The 2020 Vuelta a Espana has had to cancel its opening stages in the Netherlands due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Spanish stage race was scheduled to begin in the Dutch city of Utrecht on 14th August with the first three stages of the race taking place across the regions of Utrecht and North Brabant.

The Vuelta is no longer expected to take place in its usual slot of August and September due to the ongoing coronavirus situation and the rescheduled dates of the Tour de France now occupying this slot in the calendar

Rumours have suggested that the Vuelta is likely to take place in November, if at all, and the organisers of the Dutch stages of this year's race have conceded that the logistics of these later dates would not be possible.

'Since we heard of the change in the UCI calendar, we have discussed with all parties to find out if the start in the autumn would be possible, but it turned out to be too difficult of an assignment,' said Martijn van Hulsteijn, director of La Vuelta Holanda.

'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.'

Beyond the uncertainty of whether national governments will allow a return of professional cycling before autumn, Van Hulsteijn also said that scheduled roadworks across the proposed course in autumn would make it impossible to run.

Mayor of Utrecht, Jan van Zanen also commented on the situation, stating 'We were all looking forward to celebrating a Spanish fiesta in all the participating municipalities.

'But it turns out not be technically feasible and we have concluded there is too much uncertainty about the development of the coronavirus. A huge disappointment, but health comes first.'

This now leaves the Vuelta with the challenge of replacing its three opening stages with new routes in Spain or potentially reducing the Grand Tour down to just 18 stages.

It also needs to reassess whether the race will be able to revisit the plans for a Dutch start in the near future.

Organiser Unipublic has already mused upon the chance of visiting Utrecht in 2022 and race organiser Javier Gullen is also optimistic this could be the case.

'It is a complicated decision, one you never want to make, but which we have found ourselves compelled to do due to the complex circumstances we are currently living, which surpass any foreseeable expectation,' said Gullen.

'The very least we can do is to begin exploring the possibility of departing from the Netherlands in the near future, and we trust that we will be able to do so as soon as possible.'

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