By Gregor Brown
The Vuelta a España is eyeing the Canary Islands with a possible race finish coming as early as 2017 on the Tenerife island that team Sky uses for altitude training. The organiser Unipublic and local newspapers both indicated that talks are happening to make the dream a reality.
The Spanish grand tour has only ever finished outside Madrid and twice, 1994 and 2013, in Santiago de Compostela. If it were to happen, the race caravan would have to travel 1684 kilometres. The trip would take two hours by airplane or 43 hours by ferry.
"There is great enthusiasm on the part of the organisation, also because we realise that the fans also look forward to it and it's the next big challenge facing the Vuelta," Race director Javier Guillen told La Provincia newspaper.
"For the Vuelta is important to do new things, the Vuelta has tried to be innovative and do new things, and go where it’s never been before, like in the Canary Islands."
The Vuelta this August and September used only summit finishes that it never before raced. Fabio Aru (Astana) won the race after attacking and dropping Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) on the final mountain stage, one day before the finish in Madrid.
If plans go ahead, the same roads that team Sky and many others use to train could host the deciding battle. Unipublic wants to use the Gran Canaria and Tenerife islands for the 2017 Vuelta. Sky stay in Teide at the Hotel Parador, 2165 metres at altitude, and train on the roads around the volcano throughout the season.
According to the newspaper, the Vuelta would spend two days in Gran Canaria and its final two, with a stage up Teide, in Tenerife. Sky, of course, are not the only team to use Teide as a training climb, with the likes of Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali also visiting the area in the past year for altitude training.
>>> Training on Tenerife’s Mount Teide
The Vuelta has never used the climbs before, but visited Gran Canaria and Tenerife for the start of the 1988 edition. After three days, it travelled to the mainland and resumed racing the next day.
The 2016 Vuelta, August 20 to September 11, will begin in Galicia and stay in the northwest region for five days. A team time trial stage on day one will cover 28 kilometres to Ourense and Mirador de Ézaro will host the race's first summit finish on day three.
Unipublic will unveil the rest of the three-week race on January 9 at the official presentation in Santi