Vuelta a Espana

Vuelta a España 2021 will start inside of the Burgos cathedral

Officials say it will be the first time a grand tour starts inside of a cathedral.

There have been some unique places for starts over the years for the Vuelta a España.

Last year, the race started along a salt flat on the Mediterranean coast. A few years ago, the opening stage traced the route of the “Running of the Bulls” in Pamplona. In 2017, an opening day time trial ended inside the Roman forum in Nimes, France.

The 2021 Vuelta will start with a time trial from an even more unusual place — inside the 800-year-old cathedral in Burgos, Spain.

“It will be the first time a cycling race starts from inside a cathedral,” Vuelta director Javier Guillén said Thursday.

It’s not exactly clear from where the individual time trial will start from inside the Burgos cathedral, designed a UNESCO world heritage site, but race officials insist it’s the first of its kind.

Officials also said Thursday the opening individual time trial will trace through the narrow streets of Burgos in what they described as an “urban circuit,” and will loop around to finish in front of the cathedral as well.

Construction began on the Burgos cathedral in 1221, and officials want to commemorate its 800th anniversary with the departure of the 2021 Vuelta. The Burgos cathedral is also a key stop on the Camino de Santiago, and the Vuelta will coincide with what will be a “Jacobean year” for the pilgrimage route.

Also confirmed Thursday is that the starting date of next year’s Vuelta is set for August 14, providing an important clue that cycling’s key stakeholders are building the 2021 racing calendar around its traditional dates despite the disruptions caused by the coronavirus this year. This is just one week after the planned closing ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympics.

Tour de France officials will review details of the 2021 Tour route Sunday, while there are reports that the 2021 WorldTour season opener Tour Down Under in Australia in January could be canceled due to ongoing problems with the pandemic.