Vuelta a Espana

Vuelta a España boss says race will continue despite tightening COVID-19 restrictions in Spain

Vuelta a España officials are hopeful that Spain's new COVID-19 restrictions, which include nighttime curfew and travel bans, do not derail the race.

Vuelta a España boss Javier Guillén said the Spanish grand tour will continue despite tightening COVID-19 restrictions introduced by the Spanish government Sunday that includes a nighttime curfew.

Spain’s prime minister issued a national “state of alarm” to begin immediately across all of Spain as health conditions continue to worsen in what’s a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. In contrast to last spring, when the entire nation was placed into a strict, stay-at-home order for three months, this time there is more flexibility for regional governments to invoke local rules. As of this weekend, there is a national nighttime curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. across Spain.

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That means that for now, at least according to Guillén, the Vuelta will continue.

“I don’t know if the Vuelta will finish, but as of today, the race can continue,” Guillén said on Spanish TV. “Now we are going to study the impact of the latest decree.”

The Vuelta opened last week by introducing the strictest health protocol of any race so far in the abridged racing season. Riders told VeloNews they felt safe so far through the first week of the Vuelta, but COVID-19 cases continue to spike to pre-shutdown levels across many areas of Spain.

The Giro d’Italia successfully concluded Sunday just as the national government there imposed new restrictions against a growing wave of COVID-19 cases in Italy. French authorities also imposed new measures and forced Vuelta organizers to reschedule Sunday’s stage to the Col du Tourmalet to stay within Spanish borders.

Unlike the stay-at-home order in March, however, the latest national decree allows businesses and schools to stay open with some restrictions. Several cities are already under no-travel confinements, and there are expectations that more regions of Spain could be shut down.

Guillén and other Vuelta staffers are in close contact with regional and national authorities and received assurances before the race that the Vuelta would be allowed to continue if health protocols and mitigation efforts were strictly enforced. The latest “state of alarm” could change things.

“The decree limits night hours, but I believe they are going to allow professional sporting events, along with other professional activities,” Guillén said. “At this moment, I don’t see anything that would prevent the Vuelta from moving around.”

It’s unclear how the latest measures might impact the women’s Ceratizit Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta, a three-stage race set for November 6-8.

The latest news comes as the Vuelta is set to undergo rest-day controls for COVID-19 on everyone inside the Vuelta “race bubble.” In pre-race screenings, two staffers from two different teams tested positive, but all riders inside the peloton were healthy. If any team returns two positive COVID-19 cases within a week they could be removed, according to race rules.

The specter of a possible early shutdown of the Vuelta will certainly ripple through the peloton.

So far, riders and teams have been attacking at every opportunity to try to get something out of what could be the last day of the last race of 2020.