The effects of the global economic crisis that have impacted on Spain much more than most other countries are reported to have forced the organizers of the Tour of Murcia to reduce the length of their race from five days to three. The popular early-season event is due to take place between March 2-6, but, according to the Spanish website Biciciclismo, this year’s event will now take place between March 4-6.
No details have been released about the three stages, but Biciciclismo suggests that the organizers are considering a format along the lines of the Criterium International. Consequently, the race is likely to comprise a flat stage, a mountain finish and a time trial, which will measure around 20km and take place in the city of Murcia.
The race has already confirmed the participation of 11 teams, including the Movistar, Euskaltel, Rabobank and Vacansoleil ProTeams. Geox, United Healthcare, Skil-Shimano and Endura Racing are among the other seven teams also confirmed for the event.
The news comes on a day when another Spanish stage race that has faced difficult times in recent years celebrates its 100th anniversary. On January 6, 1911, 34 riders lined up for the first stage of the Volta a Catalunya between Barcelona’s Plaza de Sarrià and the town of Tarragona. The stage was won by Tarragona rider Sebastián Masdeu, who went on to take the overall title after three days of racing.
The Volta is the third oldest stage race in the world having been established eight years after the Tour de France and just two years after the Giro d’Italia. This year’s race takes place between March 21-27, and is set to feature a summit finish at the Andorran resort of Pal, where Igor Antón won a stage of last season’s Vuelta a España.
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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