Five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain has expressed regret at the limited number of time trials in the 2020 Vuelta a España, and acknowledged that short stages make "a different kind of cycling these days" but praised the route nonetheless for being "dramatic and with some classic climbs, like the Tourmalet."
Next year’s race will have an opening team time trial but only one individual race of 33.5km against the clock, in Galicia in the third week.
Indurain was one of the star guests at the 2020 Vuelta a España presentation, commenting on the stages for Spanish TV alongside former teammate Pedro Delgado.
For the Spaniard, the Vuelta’s 2020 start in the Netherlands will bring back some mixed memories, given s’Hertogenbosch - where stage two starts, was where Indurain began the 1996 Tour de France, the first he lost after five straight overall victories from 1991 through to 1995.
And there is also an early stage through his home region of Navarre, with a start in Pamplona just a few kilometres from his home town of Villava, and finishing in Lekumberri after the tough climb of San Miguel de Aralar.
Ourense, the finish town on stage 17, was where Indurain moved into his first ever Grand Tour lead in the first week of the Vuelta a España in 1985, becoming, at 20, the youngest ever rider to hold the top spot overall.
“It’s a pity there’s only one individual time trial in the Vuelta next year, but at least it’s an interesting one,” Indurain told Cyclingnews, referring to the partly rolling individual TT course culminating with a tough uphill finish in Ezaro at the start of the third week.
“The flat part will be challenging because the wind could be a big factor. It’s very close to the coast there, but the spectacular part will come at the end with that really hard uphill at Ezaro.”
“Will the riders change bikes for that? There’s going to be a lot of discussion about how to do that last part and it could be really important for the GC battle."
As for tackling the Tourmalet, one of cycling’s most mythical climbs, at the end of the first week, Indurain said: “I like these climbs like the Aubisque, the classic ones, that comes a bit earlier on the stage. These short, little, steep climbs they’ve brought in at the Vuelta in recent years, all coming one after the other, aren’t so much for me, but the fans like them and it’s now a part of modern cycling. The stages in the Vuelta are much shorter than they used to be but as I said, it’s a different kind of cycling these days and coming at the end of the season, it makes sense for the stages not to be so long.”
As for the stage through his home region of Navarre, Indurain said: “It could be important for the GC. We’ll have had Arrate, but San Miguel de Aralar isn’t just tricky and hard going up, it’s a tough, technical descent as well. Riders will have to be careful. Stages like that are always complicated, particularly coming so soon after a rest day.”