PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
The group behind April's Tour of the Basque Country has asked for its event to be extended by a day to accommodate the likely loss of its final day split stage. The move comes following the decision of the International Cycling Union's ProTour Council to turn down a proposal from the organisers of the Giro d'Italia for a split stage on the final day of their race.
The Basque event, which is also on the ProTour schedule, has traditionally finished with a morning road stage and an afternoon time trial, but this scenario is no longer viable following a change to the UCI's regulations agreed on September 22 during the Madrid world championships.
The Diario Vasco group that organises the Basque race has asked the UCI for an extension to six days from five. They now want their race to start on April 3 and finish on April 8, with five road stages being followed by a final day time trial. The DV group's request means that the UCI will have to consider extending its agreed number of ProTour racing days by a single day.
The main issue for the DV group is that they have already agreed deals with towns in the Basque Country to host stages up to and including the 2009 edition of the race. "It is economically imperative to maintain the same number of stages so that we can finance our race," said a statement from the race organisers. The group also reminded the UCI that their event has been run with the same final day split stage format for decades.
The DV group made a similar request to the UCI last year after receiving complaints from teams and riders about the final day split stage. Some were unhappy with the early start for the morning road race, others with the small gap - of only two hours for some riders - between the road race and the time trial. More were concerned about the late finish on the Friday afternoon, which made it difficult to make travel connections. procycling's writer and photographer encountered exactly this problem at this year's race, when they were forced to leave before the time trial had finished in order to get a flight out of Bilbao.
The organisers have also pointed out that their stage race is the shortest on the ProTour calendar. Every other ProTour stage race is at least six days long.
The easiest solution would seem to be the introduction of a Saturday time trial, but of course the UCI must weigh this up against the fact that riders and teams have also been complaining about the length and demands of the ProTour calendar. An addition of one day may not be much, but some riders are sure to be unhappy with a move upwards rather than downwards in the number of racing days.
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM