While the 2020 season has thrown up a few firsts in the sport of cycling – spring Classics in October, a September Tour de France, just to name a couple – there is no sign of these sorts of oddities stopping as we hurtle towards 2021.
This is because next year’s Vuelta a España will start inside a cathedral, with race organisers claiming this is a first for the sport of cycling.
The 2021 Spanish Grand Tour will begin with an individual time trial that rolls out from inside Burgos Cathedral.
Riders should have time for a quick Hail Mary as they are counted down from the start hut, praying they stay upright and their race isn’t ended before it begins properly.
Grand Tours, and more specifically their Grand Départs, often attempt to pull out all the stops to offer something new or pay homage to the sport, with the 2019 Tour de France starting in Brussels to honour Eddy Merckx, while the opening team time trial of last year’s Vuelta was set against the magnificent backdrop of the Irún salt flats.
The 2021 opening time trial will take place on an “urban circuit” around Burgos, located in the northern autonomous community of Castile and León.
The setting inside the cathedral is to honour the 800th anniversary of the church, with riders then going past the castle situated up on the hill of the city, where traces of human settlement date back to 2000 B.C.
Stage one of this year’s Vuelta a Burgos, the first race back after the coronavirus lockdown, also started from outside Burgos Cathedral, before arriving in Mirador del Castillo, where Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) took the victory.
The 2021 Spanish Grand Tour is currently slated for its usual late-summer slot, set to begin on August 14 and 21 stages later finish on September 5.
The 2020 race, currently taking place, has been reduced to 18 stages due to coronavirus restrictions complicating an opening three stages in Utrecht, the Netherlands, while a sejourn into Portugal was also scrapped and replacement routes instead quickly cobbled together.