By Jonny Long
The Portuguese stages of the 2020 Vuelta a España have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Authorities in the start and finish towns, as well as the Vuelta race organisers, have made the decision to alter stages 15 and 16 "due to the impossibility of guaranteeing optimal conditions" for the race to pass safely between the territories.
Stage 15 was supposed to pass from Mos to Porto Matosinhos, a flat sprint stage, while stage 16 was another day for the fast men, starting from Viseu before re-entering Spain to finish in Ciudad Rodrigo.
Vuelta organisers have already said replacement stages have been confirmed but won't announce them for a few weeks as they iron out the details. They say after this announcement no further changes to the 2020 route are expected following the first three stages in Utrecht, the Netherlands also being cancelled.
"In a situation as exceptional as the one we live in, we have to be flexible and be open and prepared to make these kinds of decisions and changes, " said the CEO of La Vuelta, Javier Guillén. "It is a shame not to be able to visit Portugal in 2020, but we do not want that flame to go out: we will keep alive the relationships and ties that we have been weaving and we will feed them in the future so that we can return to this country that has treated us so well," he added.
The Vuelta recently announced the two wildcard teams for the 2020 race, Burgos-BH and Caja Rural - Seguros RGA receiving invites, meaning Nairo Quintana's Arkéa-Samsic and Mathieu van der Poel's Alpecin-Fenix miss out.
The re-jigged slot for the Spanish Grand Tour, which had to make way for the new dates of the Tour de France, will see it overlap with both the Giro d'Italia and Paris-Rouabaix.
Set to run from October 20 - November 8, the sixth stage, which features a summit finish atop the Tourmalet, coincides with the Hell of the North as well as the final stage of the Italian Grand Tour, a time trial in Milan.
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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