Controversy Over Spain’s Sketchy Opening Stage
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Aug 22, 2015 – Tour of Spain organizers announced Friday that Saturday’s first stage will not count towards the overall standings after criticism that the team time trial circuit was too dangerous. The Vuelta a Espana gets underway with a 7.4 kilometer race-against-the-clock between Puerto Banus and Marbella on the Costa del Sol.
But riders have raised safety concerns as the coastal route includes cycling over a narrow wooden bridge and a potentially hazardous dirt track.
“The technical jury, after listening to the concerns of teams and riders and carrying out a reconnaissance of the circuit and getting the backing of the UCI (cycling’s governing body) has decided that registered times will count towards team but not individual standings,” organizers announced.
As a result results of the Vuelta curtain-raiser will only go towards the stage win and the team’s general classification.
Briton Chris Froome faces a star-studded field for the 70th edition of the event led by Colombian Nairo Quintana as he aims to become just the third rider to win the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana in the same year. “I think the organizers and the UCI took the right decision to neutralize the first stage from the general classification,” said Froome. “It’s a shame for the race but security is paramount.”