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Vuelta a Burgos attracts 12 WorldTour teams for return to 'new normal' racing

Ivan Sosa (Team Ineos) wins Vuelta a Burgos
Ivan Sosa (Team Ineos) wins Vuelta a Burgos (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The Vuelta a Burgos is the first UCI ProSeries race on the rescheduled European road race calendar in late July, with the five-day stage race attracting 12 major WorldTour teams as the riders test their form and the medical protocols for the return to racing after the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown.

According to local media reports, the Burgos Provincial Council that organises the race was inundated with requests from 40 teams, eventually giving the 22 spots to 12 WorldTour teams, the Spanish ProTeams Caja Rural, Euskaltel-Euskadi and Burgos-BH, and several Continental teams.

Last year only four WorldTour teams rode the Vuelta a Burgos in mid-August, with Ivan Sosa winning the final mountain stage to take a second overall victory. If the COVID-19 pandemic is under control in a month, Movistar, Bora-Hansgrohe, Trek-Segafredo, Bahrain McLaren, Cofidis, Jumbo-Visma, NTT Pro Cycling, UAE Team Emirates, Israel Start-Up Nation, Astana, Team Ineos and Mitchelton-Scott, will line up for this year's race, with Richard Carapaz, Alejandro Valverde, Enric Mas, Mikel Landa, Steven Kruijswijk, Nairo Quintana, Simon and Adam Yates and Miguel Ángel López expected to ride.

The final race route has still to be finalised and approved by local authorities but is expected to include a tough mountain finish to Picón Blanco and the 11km Lagunas de Neila climb where Sosa won with a late attack. The race will be broadcast live, offering the first taste of what is to come during the highly compressed, 71-day WorldTour calendar between August 1 and November 8. 

The race will be a test for local and national laws in Spain on crowd sizes and protection of public health.

Spain entered what it described as a 'nueva normalidad' - 'new normal'  - phase on June 21, allowing travel across the country and opening its borders to international visitors and tourists. The use of face masks remains compulsory in all public spaces where social distancing cannot be respected, with crowd sizes limited.  

The Vuelta a Burgos will also be a vital experiment for the UCI medical protocols, with riders obliged to undergo COVID-19 testing before travelling to Spain and facing daily health questionnaires, while staying in protected team bubbles and then peloton bubbles during the race.

There is little information in the protocol regarding the discovery of suspect COVID-19 cases in the race, with the UCI specifying that local laws on quarantine and the suspension of the race must be respected.  

"We are working hard to ensure that everything works out well and to be the test event for other races," veteran race director Marcos Moral told Spanish sports newspaper AS, aware that everyone will be watching the race.    

"There have also been numerous television networks around the world that have asked to broadcast the race. The Vuelta a Burgos is aware that we'll be among the first to face the new normal conditions, with all the risks that this entails. But if everything goes well, we'll become more than ever a showcase for the Burgos province."