Following complaints about the nature of the 7.4km team time trial course, which includes a section of sand, the organiser has semi-neutralised the stage

Saturday’s opening team time trial of the Vuelta a España will count only for teams and not for the individual classification, the organiser has announced.

The move was made after riders complained of sand section in the 7.4-kilometre first stage of the Spanish Grand Tour ending in Marbella.

Unipublic released a statement this morning, according to Spanish website Biciciclismo. It came 24 hours after cyclists reacted following a reconnaissance of the course, which included over half, 4.2 kilometres, on dirt or sand.

Race director Javier Guillén held a meeting yesterday with representatives from the UCI and the 198 cyclists starting the race. Today, he and Unipublic made the change.

The statement read, “Having heard the concerns of teams and riders, and after an inspection of the course, [the race jury decided that] the stage will take place on the planned route, [but] the recorded times will be counted for the team classification and not for the individual general classification.”

If Team Sky with Chris Froome wins the time trial with one minute over rival team Movistar with Nairo Quintana, for example, the gain would only be useful in the final team’s classification awarded in Madrid on September 13. The first rider from the winning team should take the race leader’s red jersey.

The statement, according to Biciciclismo, read:

The Technical Jury, having received the concerns of teams and riders and after an inspection of the course with the technical director of the race, and after obtaining the agreement of the UCI decided:

1. The stage will be held on the planned route.

2. The recorded time will be counted for the team classification and not for the individual general classification.

3. At the end of the stage, equipment [used] will be submitted to the protocol.

The individual classification will therefore remain blank until stage two from Alhaurín de la Torre to Caminito del Reyon Sunday. The differences made in Caminito del Reyon, will begin to count for the final overall.

Besides Froome and Quintana, the favourites list include 2010 winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) and Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha).

  • Bob

    A joke stage done for publicity and money – you cant tell me the organisers didn’t expect some backlash, but its what pays the bills I suppose and gave me a laugh at least

  • J1

    I’ll skip this non-stage I think, disappointed.

  • J1

    Proper TTs are fine but they’re just going to pootle round this course so they don’t come unstuck.

  • David Chadderton

    A route for tourists on knobbly tyres only.

  • Alan Heath

    What a non event. I was looking forward to watch the start tomorrow, but I will pick it up on sunday instead. Road races people want to see not boring tt’s

  • RobTM

    The sand was on the beach, in parts soft and deep.. they covered most of it up, with temporary textured plastic paving, also a boardwalk section. May be the council put their “Cycle Path” team in charge of TTT route design lol

  • Roger

    Didn’t the 1987 Nissan Classic have a stage with a long unpaved section? I don’t remember anyone complaining then.

  • Roger

    Didn’t the 1987 Nissan Classic have a stage with a unpaved section? I don’t remember anyone complaining then.

  • nortonpdj

    Will there be a cut off time for elimination? If not I think we are in for a serious “go slow” from the “GC” teams.

  • Jack Medlock

    Vuelta TTT now counts only to the team classification. I’ve always thought this is the way it should be in all stage races, TTTs count only to team and not general classifications.

  • Jordan Davies

    While professional racing is tough, a stage with sand on the road is ridiculous.

  • eminusx

    This years line up is Stellar, and a very interesting prospect after the Tour, so to risk all of that for a single stage, and the first of 21 was ludicrous, nobody wants to see that. Good decision I feel!

    Common sense prevails. . for once!

  • Nigel Rue

    Yes, it will be interesting to see just how slowly the GC contenders go.

  • RobTM

    Presumably Marbella stage organiser wanted TV pictures to appeal to tourists, more than they wanted to ensure a safe and fair team TT competition, choosing this picturesque “work in progress” route. The compromise decision means there’s still a race for TV, but with less incentive to take chances or having the individual GC ruined by bad luck, punctures on dirt track, skids on loose sand etc

  • Mike Prytherch

    Money over common sense ? no doubt they paid a handsome figure to host the first stage and the organisers either couldn’t see past the EURO signs or are just plain incompetent, maybe both !