Vuelta boss insists on 21 days of racing despite rescheduling push

Organizers of cycling's grand tours are so far insisting that their respective race days be respected in new-look calendar.

With ongoing discussions of reworking the racing schedule for the second half of 2020, Vuelta a España officials are insisting the Spanish grand tour will include 21 stages.

As reported yesterday on VeloNews, stakeholders are considering extending the racing season until the end of November in an effort to try to salvage part of the racing season. One proposal is to delay the Tour de France by one month, and slot the Giro d’Italia at the end of the season. Some have suggested that the Vuelta, which is scheduled to start in the Netherlands on August 14, could be shortened to race only within Spain and open space for other races.

Vuelta boss Javier Guillén has told Spanish sports daily AS that the Spanish grand tour is sticking to its dates.

“That’s all pure speculation,” Guillén told AS. “As of today, the dates of the Vuelta are what they are, and we are not planning, in any scenario, of a race of less than 21 days — just as they are scheduled.”

Lockdowns due to coronavirus across Europe have shut down racing since Paris-Nice in mid-March. This week, the UCI suspended racing until June 1, with the Critérium du Dauphiné being postponed. On Friday, the Tour de Suisse said it would cancel its 2020 edition and hope to return next June. That means the Tour, scheduled to begin June 27 in Nice, is the next major race on the UCI calendar.

So far, all three grand tours are insisting that their races retain the full 21-stage schedules as officials try to find space for a possible new-look calendar that could extend until the end of November. Major one-day races and other stage races are also looking for space, but many believe that racing will not resume until July in a best-case scenario.

With teams reducing payrolls and race organizers struggling in the unprecedented shutdown, stakeholders are hoping for some semblance of racing before the year is over. Guillén, whose Vuelta is owned by Tour de France-owner ASO, said everyone must be willing to compromise.

“We are all concentrated on supporting that the Tour de France is raced, because it’s an essential event of our sport,” he said. “We are aware of the complexities that come with the reorganization of the calendar, and we understand that we all must be generous.”