Vuelta a España set for French start in 2017

The southern city of Nimes will host the start of the 2017 Vuelta a España; only the third time the race has started outside of Spain

Nimes Arena, where bullfighting takes place (Photo: Wolfgang Staudt/CC2.0)

The Vuelta a España will start in France for the first time in 2017, race director Javier Guillen confirmed, with the southern city of Nimes chosen to host the Grand Depart.

In a press conference, Guillen confirmed that the race would start with a team time trial for the eighth consecutive year, though reportedly shorter than the 27.8km one teams took on this year.

The start in Nimes will be only the Vuelta's third trip abroad for stage one, having started previously in Lisbon (1997) and Assen, Netherlands, (2009). The French city has a strong Spanish vibe, with flamenco and bullfighting popular pastimes for the locals.

No further stages for the race were announced, but Guillen all-but ruled out a summit finish in France for stage two, which will also start begin over the border, racing towards Spain.

>>> Too brutal for sprinters: Teams prepare their climbers for mountainous Vuelta a España

“I am leaving it open to the media to speculate what happens, whether we’ll have another stage in France or head directly into Spain,” Guillen said, with the possibility of entering Spain through Andorra also mooted.

The race will begin in Nimes on August 19, 2017, finishing in Madrid on September 10.