Vuelta returns to Netherlands with time trial tonight; Many farmers to protest during race tomorrow
It should have happened two years ago, but on Friday the Tour of Spain will return to Dutch soil for the first time in thirteen years. The 2009 edition of La Vuelta started with an individual time trial at the TT Circuit in Assen. This year, the first stage of the race will be a team time trial in Utrecht, followed by two more stages in the Netherlands.
The 2020 Vuelta was supposed to start in Utrecht, but the coronavirus pandemic prevented that. Now that the time has come, Utrecht is preparing for an evening time trial. It starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Jaarbeurs when the first team, the Burgos BH from Spain, starts the ride of more than 23 kilometers.
Dutch team Jumbo-Visma will take the last turn, starting about 90 minutes later. Slovenian cyclist Primoz Roglic of Jumbo-Visma will wear the number 1 jersey, having won the Vuelta last year.
After the team time trial, Saturday will feature a stage from Den Bosch to Utrecht. The trip through the Netherlands ends on Sunday with a stage that begins and ends in Breda. The athletes and their support teams will then move to Spain. The Vuelta will continue on Tuesday from Vitoria-Gasteiz in the Basque region. The race ends on September 11 in Madrid.
Farmers protest on Saturday along the route in Utrecht
Between 2,000 and 4,000 farmers are expected to attend a protest in Woudenberg, Utrecht, on Saturday. They will gather at a demonstration site set up along the route of the second stage of the race. At several points along the route, the farmers will try to draw attention to their fight against the government's proposed nitrogen emissions measures. They will not attempt to cause a blockade, or otherwise interfere with the race, said Agractie chair Bart Kemp.
In the morning the activists are to arrive at the location on the Rumelaarseweg. Kemp expects hundreds of tractors. They have to be in place by noon, when many roads around the course will be closed. Several speakers will take part, and a music program is planned.
The cyclists will pass the location at about 4 p.m., and the farmers hope that they will get good exposure. "We discussed the piece of text with La Vuelta that they will read aloud in five languages. This will explain why we are campaigning for farmers," said Kemp.
The farmers have planned playful demonstrations over a length of approximately 10 kilometres, between Scherpenzeel and Woudenberg. There will be flags, tractors with banners, and straw bales with "SOS Dutch farmers" written on them. Everything to "make a statement en masse."
Reporting by ANP