The 2020 Vuelta was due to visit Portugal for the first time since the race started there in 1997, with a third-week stage finish in Porto and a start the following day in the nearby town of Viseu.
The Vuelta’s postponement from September to late October, however, has seen organisers forced to backtrack on that idea. The UCI calendar was revised after the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the season, with the Tour de France rescheduled for August 29-September 20.
On Wednesday, Marca reported that the start of stage 15 will remain in Mos – hometown of the 2006 Tour de France winner Oscar Pereiro – but the finish will now be in Puebla de Sanabria. The total stage distance will now be some 230 kilometres.
The terrain in the area is very hilly, and the last time the Vuelta visited Puebla de Sanabria, in 2016, it ended with a small group sprint won by Jonas Van Genechten (IAM).
The same finish also saw Alberto Contador crash at high speed on a left-hand bend, suffering minor injuries as a result. He flung his bidon to the ground in anger as he rode out of the finish area en route to the team bus, frustrated by his continued misfortune in that year’s race.
Marca reports that stage 16 of the 2020 Vuelta is now expected to start in the university city of Salamanca following a lengthy transfer south. The stage would still finish in the town of Ciudad Rodrigo, close to the Portuguese border.
The new, westerly, route would open up the possibility of racing through the Sierra de Francia mountains, as happened in the 1999 Vuelta, when the stage win was taken in memorable style by Jan Ullrich en route to his only win in the Spanish Grand Tour.
In 2000, the last time the race visited Ciudad Rodrigo, Ullrich’s Telekom team-mate Alexandre Vinokourov blasted past breakaway riders Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Txente García Acosta (Banesto) in the final kilometre.
Contacted by Cyclingnews, Vuelta organisers Unipublic said that they could not make an official comment at this time.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The Independent, The Guardian, ProCycling, The Express and Reuters.