Mixed response for extra stage at the Madrid Challenge

'It could go further or not. Hopefully it will, but for now it's just a project' say 2018 organisers

News that Vuelta a España organisers are considering an extra stage for the Madrid Challenge has received mixed reactions. The plan would see a team time trial added on the day preceding the criterium on Vuelta's final stage in the Spanish capital.

Last week Spanish website ciclo21.com revealed the plan, saying the stage would take place in the town of Boadilla del Monte, at the Spanish headquarters of race sponsor WNT, around 30km west of Madrid.

Despite being the final event of the Women's WorldTour, the 2017 Madrid Challenge was not well attended, with many top teams choosing team time trial training camps ahead of the world championship event, which took place a week later. The inclusion of a team time trial at the Spanish race may be designed to tempt those teams to the take part.

The race is yet to be announced formally and does not show on the UCI's race calendar.

"I can just confirm you that it's a project we're working on for the Madrid Challenge 2018," organisers told Cyclingnews in a statement. "Nothing is official yet nor totally confirmed. It could go further or not. Hopefully it will, but for now it's just a project."

While they said an official statement would be released 'shortly,' there is no firm timescale for any formal announcement. However, should the race be confirmed it will not be unanimously welcomed, with the late timing the main issue.

"We are always in favour of organisers making an event bigger and showing women's cycling," said Hans Timmermans, Sunweb's women's team manager. "Now we go to Madrid for an 80km criterium, so this would be good and provide us excellent preparation for the Worlds, and of course we are world champions in the discipline.

"But it is not ideal them organising it so late. We have a year planner and it might not be our best six team time trial riders. We could do it as development for some of our younger riders."

Canyon-SRAM and its previous iterations have targeted the world championship team time trial since its reintroduction in 2012, winning the first four editions, but will not attend the race should it go ahead.

"We receive a calendar in October or November and we have made our plans," team manager Ronny Lauke told Cyclingnews. "We have booked hotels, we have done the logistics, we have hired part time staff so people have their schedule. We cannot change everything, because we simply don't have the infrastructure.

"Also, it would not affect our thoughts for the team time trial. Our main preparation is done at that part of the year. It's a nice idea, but it doesn't make a difference."

It is not clear whether the race would gain a UCI classification let alone become part of the the Women's WorldTour. The UCI told Cyclingnews they would not comment until the race was confirmed or otherwise.

Last year ASO, which owns Vuelta organisers Unipublic, added an individual time trial to La Course, the one-day women's race run alongside the queen stage of the Tour de France. The time trial was not a UCI classified event, but an invitation event for the top 20 finishers in the mountain road race on Col d'Izoard.

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