'A big waste of time’: Inside the stage race with only one stage

The Ruta del Sol went from five to one stage thanks to farmer protests, creating an odd situation

Maxim van Gils
(Image credit: PhotoNews/Lotto-Dstny)

What do Maxim van Gils, Tadej Pogačar and Chris Froome have in common? They have all won the Ruta del Sol, or Vuelta a Andalucía, the important UCI 2.Pro early season race in the south of Spain.

The former is the odd one out, though, because the 24-year-old Belgian might have won the stage race overall, but he did it by winning just one stage. And that was less than five kilometres long. The five-stage race was decided by a 4.95km time trial, after farmer protests in Spain prevented the other four stages from taking place. To add to the weirdness, the time trial was completed on road bikes, with no TT originally scheduled.

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