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Length of the Vuelta a España up for discussion

Vuelta a España director Javier Guillén has revealed his vision for the Spanish Grand Tour, revealing he is ready to discuss cutting the length of the race as long as there is some significant payoff, primarily a stronger field on the start-line.

A two-week Vuelta?

Speaking about the possibility of these changes including the introduction of a third rest day or even a cut to the three-week duration of the Vuelta and the Giro d’Italia, so that they run for two weeks or a little more, Guillén stated: “That is a debate that is certainly going to take place.”

The Vuelta director said that, “the route of the race would continue to be innovative”. He added that Unipublic will endeavour to draw on Spain’s geographical riches and will stick to its preference for short stages and “explosive finishes, which have given us most of our personality”.

Echoing the line long taken by ASO with the Tour de France, Guillén insisted the Vuelta is much more than a sporting event. It is, he suggested, a tool that can promote Spain and Spanish culture.

“We have to introduce the country’s geography and gastronomy as part of our offering. We have to be a great televisual spectacular that takes place on public roads and converts the race into a huge festival, focused on starts and finishes.”

He revealed Unipublic is already working with Spanish television network TVE on boosting the race’s televisual impact. “This is how the Tour works, and it achieves splendid results. Based on the television images you see, anyone would say there’s nothing ugly to see in France.”

Guillén lamented the current state of Spanish cycling, but insisted a rise in TV viewing figures for the Vuelta and the advent in 2015 of the new team backed by Spanish F1 star Fernando Alonso were signs of a change for the better. “The stronger the Vuelta is, the stronger Spanish cycling will be,” he concluded.

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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).