Spain’s first stage race of the season, the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, has officially announced it will aim for WorldTour status in the next three to four years. And it has also confirmed that 2021’s race will include a 21km individual time trial, after the hiatus in that discipline in 2020.
Following the suspension of the Santos Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race in January, Valenciana, which runs from February 3 to 7, is currently the highest-ranked opening stage race for the 2021 season. Last year's edition was won last year by Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).
"The aim is to make into the WorldTour, which would put us in cycling’s champions league of racing, in the next three to four years," Angel Casero, race directeur, told Cyclingnews.
“It’s the next big challenge. It would also end the headache we’re currently suffering, which is that a lot of WorldTour teams want to be in our race and because we’re not in the WorldTour, we can’t admit them all.
“In 2021, for example, we’ve had to tell three WorldTour teams they can’t come. And it’s hard to decide which ones can’t be present.”
Next year, Casero said, the race will contain 15 WorldTour teams and seven ProTeams, the level formerly known as ProConti.
The 2021 Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, the 72nd edition of the Spanish race, will start in the southern city of Elche and end five days later in Valencia’s central Plaza del Ayuntamiento square. The most decisive stage will likely be the ITT, due to be held on the second to last day. There will also be a mountainous stage mid-race, with an estimated elevation gain of 3,000 metres and a summit finish.
It is not clear who will be taking part, with Pogačar among those yet to confirm if he will return in 2021. Casero predicts that rather than a stage race specialist, “a top Classics racer” will be the outright winner next February.
Although the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana has been hit by economic difficulties, backing from a privately-owned foundation, the Fundacion Trinidad Alsonso, has enabled them to pull through.
“They’ve helped us straighten up our accounts,” Casero said. And he is already planning for the 2022 edition, which will likely feature a time trial with a summit finish, just as the race did back in 2019.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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