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Two years after it was supposed to begin in Utrecht, the COVID 19-delayed Dutch start to the race will finally get underway in the Netherlands. The race opener is, surprisingly, only the fourth time in the Vuelta’s history that the race will begin outside the host country.
Hosting the Gran Partida is a coup for Utrecht, which makes history in being the first to complete the hattrick of grand tour starts. The Giro d’Italia began there in 2010 and the Tour de France did likewise in 2015.
This time around, the action begins with a 23.3 kilometer team time trial. This is considerably longer than the previous TTT opener at the Vuelta, a 13.4 kilometer race at Torrevieja in 2019. Taking place entirely within Utrecht, it is a pan flat course winding around the streets of the city. Speeds will be very high and technical abilities will also be put to the test.
While the gaps between the best teams will likely be tight, it will be crucial to avoid any misfortune. Three years ago the Jumbo-Visma team of Primoz Roglic had a mass crash on wet roads and lost 40 seconds. Whatever about the victory, staying upright will be the most important concern.