2010 Vuelta a Espana to Include Night Stage

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12/16/2009| 0 comments
by AP

2010 Vuelta a Espana to Include Night Stage

Organizers on Wednesday unveiled the route for next year's Vuelta a Espana, which will open with an after-dark team time trial in Seville -- the first nighttime stage in the race's history. Other changes on tap for 2010: More mountaintop finishes and just one individual time trial.

Next year's Vuelta a Espana will include a team time trial run at night, race organizers said Wednesday.

The inaugural "nocturnal" stage will kick off the 65th edition of the Spanish classic, and will see riders race the 16.5-kilometer (10.3-mile) leg through the streets of Seville from 9 p.m. local time.

The 21-leg race begins in Seville on Aug. 28 with riders crossing the Madrid finish line three weeks and 3,350 kilometers later.

Organizers also said that the leader's jersey will change color from gold to red. They see the red shirt as more "Spanish" and that the gold jersey, first introduced in 1999, was known erroneously as the "yellow shirt."

The 2010 race includes six mountaintop finishes, one more than in 2009. A stage ending at Pal ski station brings the Pyrenees back onto the route after being left out in 2009.

The 46-km (28.5-mile) Stage 17 will be the only individual time trial, starting and finishing in the town of Penafiel near Valladolid.

The new night stage will begin with five "very technical" kilometers (3.1 miles) according to the organizers, ending at the landmark Torre del Oro.

Local riders welcomed the new-look route, despite some safety concerns regarding the night stage.

"It's an inspiring route, one which gives the climbers a lot of opportunities," said two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador.

"I'm really motivated, too, by the last mountainous stage, which goes through an area near Madrid I use regularly for training.

However Contador, who won the Vuelta in 2008, warned the Seville night stage "could be dangerous." He added: "I hope there are no problems."

Contador said his participation in the Vuelta will depend on his Astana team's performance in the Tour de France.

Reigning Vuelta champion Alejandro Valverde also liked the look of the route.

"At first glance it's clear that it's a very nice, very hard route," he said. Valverde would not confirm his participation in the race due to the demands of the season, but said he hopes to take part. He is currently fighting a two-year ban imposed by Italy's Olympic Committee for alleged involvement in a blood-doping ring.

Samuel Sanchez, meanwhile, praised the race for its ability "to discover new formulas."

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