Vuelta a España 2020 organiser forced to cancel stages in the Netherlands as race officially postponed

The organisers said it would be ‘impossible’ to start the race in northern Europe

Podium at the Vuelta a España 2019 (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The organisers of the 2020 Vuelta a España have confirmed that Netherlands stages of the race have been cancelled.

Racing in the Spanish Grand Tour was scheduled to kick off in the Dutch regions of Utrecht and North Brabant in mid-August, but the plans have been shelved because of the coronavirus crisis.

The Vuelta is not expected to run in its scheduled slot in August as the UCI has been forced to completely redraw the 2020 calendar, with the Tour de France now expected to run from August 29 instead, while rumours have suggested the Vuelta will be moved to November.

Director of La Vuelta Holanda Martijn van Hulsteijn, responsible for organising the opening three Vuelta stages in the Netherlands, said: “ Since we heard of the change in the UCI calendar, we have discussed with all parties to find out if the start in the autumn would be possible, but it turned out to be too difficult of an assignment.

“Moving three stages, on three days, through 34 municipalities with start and finish places in various places turned out to be a bridge too far.”

Hulsteijn said it would be too difficult to move the three stages to later in the year, even without the uncertainty caused by coronavirus, adding that there are a large number of roadworks being carried out in that part of the world in the autumn.

While the UCI have not yet confirmed when the race will be postponed to, the Vuelta organisers have now announced that the race will be pushed back until after the World Championships in September.

Mayor of Utrecht Jan van Zanen said: “We were all looking forward to celebrate a Spanish fiesta in all the participating municipalities. But it turns out not be technically feasible and we have concluded there is too much uncertainty about the development of the coronavirus. A huge disappointment, but health comes first.”

Vuelta organiser Unipublic said it intends to take the race to the Netherlands in the near future, potentially 2022, but with no plans yet set.

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Race director Javier Guillen said: “It is a complicated decision, one you never want to make, but which we have found ourselves compelled to do due to the complex circumstances we are currently living, which surpass any foreseeable expectation.

“The very least we can do is to begin exploring the possibility of departing from the Netherlands in the near future, and we trust that we will be able to do so as soon as possible.”

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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.