After hosting the Grand Depart of the 2015 Tour de France, the Dutch province of Utrecht is looking to bring back Grand Tour racing. According to Spanish newspaper Marca, Utrecht hopes to host the opening stages of the Vuelta a Espana in either 2018 or 2019.
The 'Gran Salida' could spend three days in the country, starting with the traditional team time trial, and feature cobbles and a finish on the Cauberg. Organisers have also said that they would hunt out certain areas to invite crosswinds and visit the province of Gelderland.
Utrecht will have to fight off other bidders for their favoured slot of 2019 with Alicante also reportedly hoping to bring the Vuelta to the region. They are reluctant to delay it any longer with the Olympic Games in Tokyo likely to prevent many of the top riders missing the Spanish Grand Tour.
"We would prefer 2019 because it is a year without the Olympic Games, the football World Cup or European Cup, which will allow us to have big visibility, to be a great event of the summer," head of Business Peloton Utrecht, Cor Jansen said according to Marca.
"The Vuelta will have the final word on it, and 2019 is also a difficult year because the organisation has other offers. 2020 is a more feasible year. However, it is a bad option because the Olympic Games are in Tokyo."
The Vuelta a Espana is the least geographically adventurous of the three Grand Tours, venturing outside Spain for a start for the first time in 1997. It was 12 years before it did it again with a start in Drenthe, the Netherlands in 2009. The third foreign start will be next year when the race begins in Nimes, France.
The Netherlands has been a regular host of Grand Tour starts, holding six since the Tour de France visited Amsterdam in 1954. Most recently, the Giro d'Italia spent its first three days in the country, beginning in Apeldoorn. As well as the 2015 Tour de France, Utrecht hosted a stage finish of the 2010 Giro d'Italia. The thirst for Grand Tour racing continues, and Jansen says that a return for the Tour de France would not be out of the question.
"After the experiences of the Giro and the Tour, the next step is the Vuelta. It's the logical thing to happen. We would like to be the first city in the world to have had the finish of three Grand Tour stages," said Jansen.
"We would finish this Grand Slam, and with this we would try to bring the Tour de France to our streets for 2025, it's a possibility that we are weighing up."
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