Vuelta a Espana

Early climbs at Vuelta a España closed to fans

No fans in Spain's rowdy Basque Country will be allowed to line key climbs in the first week of this year's race.

It’s the first confirmation that the 2020 Vuelta a España is going to be different — no fans on the Basque mountains.

Officials on Tuesday confirmed that in a decision taken with the Basque regional government that two key climbs in the Basque region featured in the first week of the Vuelta will be contested “behind closed doors.”

The climbs of Arrate, featured in stage 1 on October 20, and the Orduña climb, in stage 7 on October 27, will be raced without any fans lining the road.

Why? A worsening health situation across Spain is forcing organizers to tighten health protocols for the season’s third grand tour, set to run October 20 to November 8.

“The Basque government believes that the current epidemiological situation makes it impossible to guarantee the adequate conditions required in order to allow the presence of the public,” a statement read Tuesday.

The restrictions are the first public confirmation of what’s expected to see more in the coming days leading up to the start of the Vuelta. Health conditions are worsening across Spain, with parts of Madrid placed back under a limited quarantine. Other parts of Spain are expected to follow as the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations steadily increases in some areas.

So far, race organizers are saying that the entirety of the Vuelta will run as scheduled.

The Vuelta starts October 20 in Irún, in a shortened version with 18 stages after the coronavirus forced organizers to cancel a planned start in the Netherlands.