Vuelta a Espana

Vuelta a Espana director has no regrets about RadioShack snub, predicts ‘spectacular’ race

Javier Guillén says the race features a 'colossus' climb and a stellar field, including the Schlecks, Menchov, Sastre, Cavendish, Freire and others

Javier Guillén, race director at the Vuelta a España, says he’s optimistic the 2010 edition of the Spanish grand tour will be “spectacular.”

Guillén, in his second year as director of the Vuelta, said the race will enjoy a stellar field for its 75th anniversary, but expressed his understanding that three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador decided not to start.

“The Vuelta will have world-class participation and in this regard I am very content,” Guillén told the Spanish wire service EFE. “We have the Schleck brothers, Menchov, Sastre, Cavendish, Freire … Contador couldn’t make it. He was always very honest with the Vuelta. He likes the race and he liked the route, but his objective was the Tour and after winning it, he had a lot of obligations. If he comes, he comes to win, and we understand that he couldn’t prepare for the Vuelta like he would have wanted. The doors are always open to Contador at the Vuelta.”

He also expressed satisfaction about the 21-stage route, which starts with a late-night team time trial in Sevilla on Saturday night under the lights. There are eight mountain stages, including six summit finishes and one long individual time trial.

Two new summit finishes — Cotobello in the second week and the Bola del Mundo on the penultimate stage — will pump new energy into the race.

“It’s a colossus and it will be a reference in Spanish cycling from now on,” he said of the Bola del Mundo, a steep climb in the mountains north of Madrid. “It would really excite me if the Vuelta is decided on this climb. It will also be a homage to Enrique Franco (the former Vuelta director), who always wanted to the race to arrive to this climb.”

Guillén also said he has no regrets about not inviting RadioShack to the race. The U.S.-registered team was not included among the 22 teams starting Saturday in Sevilla, a decision that angered many.

“I don’t regret anything,” he continued. “I understand the controversy surrounding the decision because it’s an important team, but we had other alternatives. We’ll have to make the analysis at the end of the race. The selected teams will give a big show.”