Vuelta a Espana

Vuelta a España ponders U.S. start

Vuelta a España race director Javier Guillén confirmed that the Spanish race is studying the possibility of bringing the race to New York, but said it wouldn’t be happening in the short-term future. Speaking to journalists at Benidorm, where the season’s third grand tour kicks off on August 20, Guillén…

Vuelta a España race director Javier Guillén confirmed that the Spanish race is studying the possibility of bringing the race to New York, but said it wouldn’t be happening in the short-term future.

Speaking to journalists at Benidorm, where the season’s third grand tour kicks off on August 20, Guillén said the numbers don’t add up for a trans-Atlantic trip to the Big Apple.

“We’ve studied the North American adventure, but the numbers don’t add up,” Guillén told Europa Press. “I don’t see it happening in the short-term.”

The Vuelta’s interest in bringing a grand tour to North America is nothing new. The Giro d’Italia was poised to bring the corsa rosa to Washington, D.C., for 2012, but those plans have stalled. Giro race director Angelo Zomegnan told VeloNews that the DC plan remains an option, but it will not happen next year.

Concerns about logistics, costs and jet lag have long proved tough hurdles for grand tour directors dreaming of starting a race in North America. The Tour de France decided that starting the grande boucle in such far-flung places as Canada or the French Antilles is simply unrealistic.

Before heading to North America, Guillén said it’s more realistic to bring the Vuelta to the Balearic islands or the Canary islands.

“Before going to New York, I’d prefer to do it in the Baleares or the Canarias,” he said. “We’d love to climb the Teide (a volcano on Tenerife at 3718m). We see that as more practical than going to New York, but it would be complicated as well because it would have to be done at the end of the Vuelta.”

Guillén said the Spanish tour is more interested in consolidating its place on the international calendar by building on recent momentum that’s elevated interest in the Vuelta.

“We have to consolidate the race. This year we’re going to discovery the Ancares and the stage to Farrapona will be spectacular,” he said. “That’s the direction we want to go.”

Guillén also said one of the major challenges for the race is to build a strong sense of identity among fans and media with the Spanish tour. He admitted that the Vuelta has a long way to go when compared to the passion and allegiance that fans in France and Italy share with their respective national tours.

“The Vuelta should be a social event, because it’s not just a bike race, but it’s something that belongs to the Spanish and sporting heritage. We have create something that the people feel identified with the Vuelta,” he said. “The Tour has a grandeur that’s bigger than the riders. It’s hard to find that same passion in Spain that the French have for their race. Our challenge is to look for that identity. … We have to feel proud of the Vuelta. I want it to be a party, a big social event, that benefits cycling.”

The 2011 Vuelta begins August 20 in Benidorm and concludes September 11 in Madrid.