BURGOS, Spain (VN) — Race officials have given the peloton the green light for Tuesday’s start of the Vuelta a Burgos.
Officials told VeloNews on Monday evening that all of the riders on the final start list returned a negative COVID-19 control, required as part of the protocols introduced for cycling’s new racing season.
That means it’s an all-clear for the first major race on the revised elite men’s calendar since racing stopped at Paris-Nice in mid-March.
Some of the top riders in the men’s peloton have descended on Burgos, a bustling provincial capital on the edge of Spain’s northern meseta.
Five stages — with three sprinter-friendly profiles and two mountaintop finales — will determine the winner.
Under these strange times, however, it’s who’s on the start list and how teams got to Spain that’s drawing attention.
Burgos presents the first major race in four months for a sport that’s trying to thread the needle. With cases of COVID-19 breaking out in other parts of Spain, Burgos and much of northern Spain remains relatively quiet.
Officials are hopeful the race will unfold without incident.
Last week’s return to racing for the women’s peloton saw CCC-Liv pull out of a pair of Spanish races after a few teams could not produce the COVID-19 controls in time to meet protocols laid out by the UCI.
Starting and completing the five-day Burgos race will be an important milestone for the peloton. Fourteen WorldTour teams are here, with most of the peloton racing for the first time since March.
“I am really nervous, excited and anxious but I think I am in good shape,” said Mitchelton-Scott’s Esteban Chaves. “Personally the lockdown was a good time for me and after that, I am more hungry and I can see everything with a different perspective. Burgos will be the start of this new chapter so I am very excited.”
To get here, riders and staffers had to undergo controls within the past 72 hours to confirm that they do not have traces of the coronavirus in their systems. Most have already been tested at least a half-dozen times ahead of team camps.
WorldTour races will require two pre-race controls — at six days and again at three days before competition.
Teams have invested tens of thousands of euros building their “race bubbles,” and race organizers have also seen extra costs to create COVID-safe racing conditions.
Though fans and media are allowed at Burgos — credentialed media were also required to produce a COVID-negative test — much of the pre- and post-race festivities will look very different.
No fans or media will be allowed into the team bus area, and start lines and finish lines will also be heavily controlled.