Vuelta a España: opening TTT times to be neutralised after safety concerns

The organisers of the Vuelta a España have announced that Saturday’s opening team time trial will still take place on the dirt bike path along the Marbella seafront but race officials have decided that times set by the teams will not count for the overall classification. The teams will still race for stage victory but now none of the big-name overall contenders will risk losing time on the overall classification.

On Thursday several riders, including Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Team Sky) published photographs on Twitter of the dirt and sand surface and pointed out several potentially dangerous points along the course. These include a raised bridge section, a section on a rubber mat along the beach, and a ramp to the finish in the middle of another beach. The 7.4km course apparently includes seven changes in road surfaces and several ramps, despite riders expecting to race at over 50km/h.

In a Tweet, Nicolas Roche of Team Sky asked: "Vuelta ttt!!!! Are you joking????"

Rider representatives, organisers, and race judges from the UCI held a meeting to find a solution on Thursday evening and reconvened on Friday morning. 

Race director Javier Guillén said traffic and logistical problems made it impossible for the race route to be changed, claiming the route had been seen and approved by the UCI and the CPA international rider’s association.

However, after Friday’s second meeting a statement from the organisers announced the compromise decision.

"Having received the concerns of teams and riders and after an inspection of the course with the technical director of the race, the Race Jury has decided that the stage will take place on the planned route," the statement reads.

"The recorded times will be counted for the team classification and not for the individual general classification."

The 7.4km team time trial will be held in the evening on Saturday, with the last team starting at 8:25 PM local time.

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