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No Tourmalet for Vuelta a Espana due to French restrictions

Stage 6 will now travel to Formigal summit as Tourmalet and Aubisque ascents dropped

Joe Robinson
23 Oct 2020

Cycling's 'Super Sunday' has taken another hit after the Vuelta a Espana confirmed it would be scrapping its ascents of the Col du Tourmalet and Col d'Aubisque this weekend.

The Vuelta organiser confirmed that due to new Covid-19 restrictions across the border in France, the 136km Pyrenean route would be altered and the two French climbs scrapped.

'Unfortunately, the stage we had planned for 25th October, with the summit finish on the Tourmalet, in the end will not be able to happen,' said race director Javier Guillén on Thursday afternoon.

'The reason is that, given the state of emergency declared in France, and the restrictions imposed, we can’t, as a race, pass into French territory. We have to be grateful for the collaboration we’ve had with the French authorities and localities, and we hope that when things are back to normal we can repeat a stage which I believe is one of the best we could present on a Vuelta route.'

Stage 6 of this year's Vuelta was scheduled to be a punchy 136km affair that finished atop the iconic Tourmalet climb after passages of the Col du Portalet and Col d'Aubisque earlier in the day.

Originally, it was concerns over bad weather that had put the Tourmalet's inclusion in doubt. However, much like the Giro d'Italia scrapping the Colle dell'Agnello and the Col du Izoard on its own planned excursion into France this weekend, it is new French Covid restrictions that have put paid to the race's plans.

The alternative route the Vuelta has settled on should still see plenty of excitement. Stage 6 will now total 146.4km, taking in 3,040m of vertical elevation but, most importantly, finish on the climb to Formigal.

'The Vuelta won’t be stopping. We’ll have 146km, starting in Biescas and finishing at Aramon Formigal, with three climbs and a first-category summit finish,' Gullen said of the new route.

'It’s a stage that fits perfectly, because a mountain stage is substituted by a mountain stage. We know we’re going to maintain the spectacle that the riders have so brilliantly given us so far.'

Cycling fans will remember that Formigal was the site of one of the best Grand Tour stages in modern history when, in 2016, Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana formed an alliance to drop Chris Froome with an attack towards the beginning of the stage, effectively losing the race for Froome and winning it for Quintana.

Despite this worthy replacement, the absence of the Tourmalet will somewhat further dampen the impact of what was being labelled 'Super Sunday' with the Vuelta's Tourmalet stage, the final stage of the Giro d'Italia and both the men's and women's Paris-Roubaix races originally organised for the 25th October.

Instead, with the cancellation of the Tourmalet and both Roubaix races, fans will have to settle for a 15.7km time-trial to Milan and a summit finish to Formigal.

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