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Vuelta gets preliminary okay for new approach

Spanish television has reported that organizers of the Vuelta a Espana have won preliminary UCI approval for a unique approach to organizing Spain’s national tour in a fashion that will allow it to invite as many as 32 separate teams this fall. Current UCI regulations limit the number of riders participating in a grand tour to just 22 9-man teams, but Vuelta officials have proposed turning the first week of the race into a sort of play-off, involving two separate 16-team races. At the end of the opening week, the top nine teams from each group would then go on to contest the remainder of

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Leblanc: 'We don't envision modifying the Tour de France in this way.'

By VeloNews Interactive

Spanish television has reported that organizers of the Vuelta a Espana have won preliminary UCI approval for a unique approach to organizing Spain’s national tour in a fashion that will allow it to invite as many as 32 separate teams this fall.

Current UCI regulations limit the number of riders participating in a grand tour to just 22 9-man teams, but Vuelta officials have proposed turning the first week of the race into a sort of play-off, involving two separate 16-team races.

At the end of the opening week, the top nine teams from each group would then go on to contest the remainder of the three-week tour, while the remaining 14 squads would be pulled from the race.

Though given approval by the UCI, the novel approach has yet to be reviewed and approved by the professional riders’ union.

Tour de France race director Jean-Marie Leblanc said the idea was interesting, but not one he would likely adopt.

“For the Vuelta, it could be an interesting experience and put the organizer at ease in view of the high number of candidates among the Spanish teams,” Leblanc said.

“We don’t envision modifying the Tour de France in this way,” he said. “There’s nothing anti-sporting in the suggested plan. But the project is hard and complicated to put in place, and there could be a problem for the public to understand it.”

A spokesman for the Vuelta said the idea originated as a means of accommodating this year’s unusually high number of applications from teams hoping to participate in the race.

No matter what the final format, the Vuelta is scheduled to begin in Valencia on September 7.