Cycling: Vuelta to start in the Netherlands next year

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Vuelta a Espana

(Reuters) - The Netherlands will host the official start of the 2022 Vuelta a Espana, organisers said on Wednesday, after similar plans for last year's edition were scrapped because the race was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organisers said that Utrecht will host the inaugural time trial in August 2022 and the finish of the second stage, which begins from Hertogenbosch. The third stage will start and finish in Breda.

"To return to the Netherlands, which is the quintessential cycling nation, is something we've been wanting to do for a very long time," Vuelta director Javier Guillen said in a statement https://www.lavuelta.es/en/news/2021/la-vuelta-22-will-depart-from-the-netherlands/25916.

"The Netherlands is a guarantee for success in terms of organisation and I have no doubt that, despite the complexity of the current situation, we'll be able to carry out the event safely and successfully.

"In 2020 we were forced to make a decision that we never wanted to make, but which we were compelled to make given the circumstances. Despite everything, the Netherlands' commitment and wish to host La Vuelta hasn't changed a bit since then."

The 2022 race will be the second edition of La Vuelta to start from the Netherlands and the fourth to take off from abroad after Lisbon 1997, Assen 2009 and Nimes 2017.

The Vuelta's opening three stages in the Netherlands were cancelled in 2020 as the race was moved to October from its original dates of Aug. 14-Sept. 6.

The 2021 edition of the Grand Tour race is scheduled to start in August.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)