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Vuelta boss: ‘All for the Tour, but not the Tour against all’

Javier Guillén speaks out in defense of Vuelta, highlighting that the whole calendar needs to be saved, not just the Tour.

Vuelta a España director Javier Guillén has defended his race and its place in a re-shaped 2020 calendar, highlighting that the  Tour de France cannot be the one-and-only.

“All for the Tour, but not the Tour against all,” Guillén said, Thursday.

“We are fully aware of the Tour’s magnitude and the necessity of holding it,” Guillén told Spanish news outlet AS. “But we can’t just save the Tour, we need to save the whole calendar. You can not detract from the Vuelta, or the Giro.”

The Tour de France has formed the first piece in the UCI’s puzzle when re-building the post-coronavirus 2020 calendar. Last week, the governing body sketched out its template for the season to come, with the Tour due to run August 29-September 20, bumping the Vuelta from its traditional late-summer window. The Giro d’Italia, Vuelta, and five monuments would be the next races to be re-allocated calendar dates, with the rest of the season slotting in after that.

It has become widely accepted that the Tour is the sun around which the rest of the cycling season revolves, with team directors admitting that the race makes up over half of a season’s revenue and media coverage. Riders and team heads have gone as far as to say that the cycling business model would break down without the Tour, and warned of the danger of having so much reliance on the one event.

But the importance of other events cannot be overlooked, warned Guillén, with the Vuelta proven to be a strong tourism pull for his country and drawing a wide international audience.

“You can’t discredit an international event such as La Vuelta,” Guillén said. “In Spain these days, after the football, cycling is the event with the most international coverage.”

With the calendar in its current initial shape, the Vuelta could be the last race of the season, possibly to run from the start of November.

“The Vuelta in autumn is something exceptional but, if it is successful, it will bring a climate of normality and enthusiasm not only to sport, but to the whole of society,” Guillén said. He also mentioned that if the only way the race can take place is ‘behind closed doors’ with action broadcast on television, then they would follow that approach.

While Guillén was robust in the defense of the Vueta, he confirmed that the race would work for the greater good of the cycling calendar. The originally-planned Dutch start to the event has already been scrapped, with it likely that the race will now take place entirely on Spanish soil. There has been discussion of a shortened Vuelta for 2020, though that is yet to be confirmed.

“In the end, it is they [the UCI] who are going to have to make a decision,” Guillén said. “We know that it must be yielded and we are not tensing. The Vuelta has always wanted the general interest to prevail.”