Vuelta a Espana race director Javier Guillén says that the dramatic conclusion to this year’s race made up for the disappointments and controversy earlier on in the race. The Grand Tour began with a contentious team time trial in Malaga and saw Vincenzo Nibali expelled from the race for holding onto a car but finished with a thrilling penultimate stage to Cercedilla.
The final week of the Vuelta saw the jersey changing hands several times with Fabio Aru (Astana) taking control on the final mountain stage as race leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) cracked under the pressure set by Astana.
“This final compensated for the displeasure,” Guillén told Spanish newspaper AS. “There is a good aftertaste because the Vuelta ended very well. This suits me because it didn’t all begin as well as it could have.”
Throughout the interview with AS, Guillén was quizzed on some of the more challenging parts of the Vuelta. Having to neutralise the opening team time trial was a tough moment but the dust (almost literally) had barely had time to settle when the next controversy landed on Guillén’s desk. Former champion and one of the pre-race favourites, Nibali was disqualified from the race after he received a tow from his team car.
'The regulation is clear,” said Guillén. “One: the organizer is not responsible if a rider holds onto the car. Two: the decision, which we share, is from the the UCI jury. The rule does not provide another possibility. What would have happened to the credibility of the race with another decision?
“The rider apologised, the Vuelta has nothing against him and hopefully he will return.”
Guillén named Kris Boeckmans’ crash, which resulted in him being put in an induced coma, as his worst moment of the entire race. Boeckmans was brought out of his coma last week and has returned home to Belgium. Boeckmans’ crash was, perhaps, something the race organisers couldn’t prevent but the incidents involving Tinkoff-Saxo riders Peter Sagan and Sergio Paulinho saw them come under fire.
Both Sagan and Paulinho had their races ended after collisions with race motorbikes which resulted in the team threatening to boycott the race. “The accident with him (Sagan) and Paulinho shouldn’t have happened but it did. With it happening to two riders, one of which is very important, it’s also a problem that happened at other races, so it became a very big thing.”
Guillén did, however, defend the drivers of the motorbikes. “The people that are in the Vuelta are experts. The driver involved in the Sagan incident has done six Vueltas,” he said. "The bikes are necessary and, even with everything that happened, no team has asked them to be removed.”
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