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Riders protest about safety at Ruta del Sol

CLLAR VEGA SPAIN MAY 21 Ethan Hayter of United Kingdom and Team INEOS Grenadiers Green Points Jersey Miguel ngel Lpez Moreno of Colombia and Movistar Team yellow leader jersey Luis ngel Mat Mardones of Spain and Team Euskaltel Euskadi red mountain jersey Thomas Sprengers of Belgium and Team Sport Vlaanderen Baloise blue intermediate sprint jersey at start during the 67th Vuelta A Andalucia Ruta Del Sol 2021 Stage 4 a 1829km stage from Baza to Cllar Vega VCANDALUCIA on May 21 2021 in Cllar Vega Spain Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo MorenoGetty Images
The classification leaders front the protest at the start of stage 4 (Image credit: Getty Images)

Riders at the Vuelta a Andalucía staged a protest ahead of Friday's stage 4, feeling their safety and welfare was being disregarded by the race organisers. 

The peloton came together on the start line of the penultimate stage in Baza to delay the roll-out by a few minutes in what was described as a 'symbolic' act. 

They wanted to highlight what they perceived as a "lack of attention that has been given to their safety requests at the race", according to a statement issued by the riders' association, the CPA.

Riders had raised concerns with the nature of the roads on Thursday's stage 3, and also the length of bus transfers between stages and hotels.  

"The riders protest against the choice of routes, gravel descents and large potholes, which in yesterday's stage put their safety and well-being in serious danger," read the statement from the CPA.

"This difficult situation is to be added to the long and tiring transfers to which the athletes have been subjected during this race. They understand the organizer's difficulties due to the post-pandemic period but they ask for more attention and respect to be given to this situation, as this is also a requirement by the regulations.

"The safety of the athletes must be the priority in the organization of all races, both large and small and they will no longer tolerate serious shortcomings such as those which were encountered yesterday. This symbolic protest is intended to attract the attention of the organizers and the UCI to this important issue."

The Vuelta a Andalucía - also known as the Ruta del Sol - set out from Mijas on Tuesday, with 150km separating the finish town of Zahara de la Sierra from the start town of stage 2 in Iznájar. The subsequent journeys from Alcalá la Real to Beas de Segura, and from Villarrodrigo to Baza were both nearer 200km.

Four riders failed to finish stage 3 - Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Yousif Mirza (UAE Team Emirates), Edwin Avila (Burgos-BH), and Orluis Aular (Caja Rural) - although their teams have not given reasons for their withdrawals. 

Miguel Angel López (Movistar) won stage 3 at the summit finish of Puerto de Onsares, and wears the leader's yellow jersey on stage 4, with the race set to conclude on Saturday after five stages.

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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.