There is a coincidence in cycling that makes all its charm. Literally anything can happen between kilometer zero and the finish line, and it often does.
Take the recent Giro d’Italia, which managed to encompass both a man dressed as a chef handing out pineapples on a climb and the ferry off Sicily having to turn around because they forgot the winner of stage of the day Arnaud Démare.
And now the Vuelta a España is looking to kick things up a notch with an innovation that can only go wrong.
Unipublic, the organizers of the Grand Tour of Spain, want the Vuelta peloton to pass through a football stadium mid-match during the 15-minute half-time break. Yes, you read that right.
This is according to the Spanish newspaper Mark, who reports that the idea could materialize as soon as this year’s race and if not could be kept for future editions. Either way, it looks like they’re completely determined to do it.
The move would see the peloton drive through La Liga club Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano on the final stage 21 on Sunday September 11.
This would take place mid-stage, which will surely require tight control of the speed of the peloton as it advances along the 100.5km course for the processional stage from Las Rozas to Madrid. Sooner or later, you might see Primož Roglič brought down by Antoine Griezmann kicking the ball out of play as 70,000 Spanish football fans watch.
It is not the first time that the Vuelta has incorporated football, the country’s most popular sport, into its race. In 2019, the riders started from Atletico Bilbao’s San Mamés stadium, signing for the day’s stage before completing a lap of empty ground. Local riders and club fans Omar Fraile, Jonathan Lastra and Mikel Bizkarra all wore replica shirts to mark the occasion.
Before that, in 2002, the Grand Tour of Spain ended with a stage 21 time trial that ended inside Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu.
Stay weird, La Vuelta, and just hope a football fan doesn’t upset someone like Mark Cavendish as he smashes his way onto the pitch, causing an episode of Eric-style kung fu kicking. Cantona.