Vuelta opening team time trial shortened

Plans also being laid for Basque Country stages in 2011

The organizers of the Vuelta a España have announced that the course of the Seville team time trial that kicks off this year’s race on August 28 has had to be shortened due to road works. Originally scheduled to cover 14.4km, the team time trial course has been cut to 13km because of works being undertaken on an underpass.

Both the city council and race organizers Unipublic insist that the late change to the route will not have any impact on what is set to be an intriguing opening stage to this year’s race. The Seville team time trial will take place in the late evening under lights on what is sure to be a stunning course taking in many of the city’s most famous sights.

Looking ahead to next year’s race, Unipublic has signed a deal with the Basque regional government to take the Vuelta into the Basque Country for the first time since 1978. According to Bilbao newspaper El Correo, the two sides are discussing the inclusion of two stage finishes in the region in the 2011 Vuelta.

The first is set to be in Bilbao on Friday, September 16 at the end of a stage starting in Cantabria. The second Basque stage will follow the next day, just 24 hours before the race’s finale in Madrid. It will start in Bilbao and finish in Vitoria and is likely to include some of the region’s most renowned climbs.

Negotiations to return the Vuelta to the Basque Country, which is one of the traditional strongholds of cycling in Spain, have been under way for more than a year. The Vuelta has not ventured into Basque territory since the conclusion of the 1978 edition was seriously affected by protests.

The Basque regional government has approached the town councils in Bilbao and Vitoria with details of the proposal as a first step towards getting their backing for the stages. According to El Correo, if the Bilbao city council gets behind the project, the most likely finishing point for the first of the Basque stages would be outside the spectacular Guggenheim Museum. If Bilbao does not want to be involved, alternative finishes are being considered in the nearby towns of Getxo and Barakald.

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