Pinceled from the next edition of From LaVueimprovement plans, proper names… Javier Guillin takes stock of BRAND of a Spanish round that officially presents its route next Tuesday.

Rádio MARCA awarded you for your work with LaVuelta, how did you feel about this award?

Very captivating. This is my land. I spend the day walking around Spain, but in this case I can talk about the city and the region where I live. It is not for personal merits, but for LaVuelta. Being a prophet in your homeland sometimes comes true. But what makes me happy is being with my neighbors.

What insights can you give about the 2024 edition?

It will be a demanding Vuelta. We are happy with the path we took in 2023, but this forces us to continue making a proposal with at least the same level of demand. It's a return that could even be described as the same or more difficult than last year. He won't give up. There are some surprises, but what stands out most is that all stages will have to be contested. There will be no transition phases, which I also don't like. For land, they will all be contested.

The Tour and the Giro are somehow 'copying' the LaVuelta formula, did I mention this a few days ago in Burgos to the directors of the two races?

Not for anything. If so, welcome. We are clear about what our model should be. It's obvious that we all look at each other a little askance. Of course, if something works for someone else, you can import it. We have a profile and what matters is this identity or personality. From there, what we have to do is insist on it. LaVuelta is the race that has grown the most in recent years. We know where we are. Having partners like the Tour de France or the Giro at the same level is very satisfying for us.

At the Burgos congress they talked about improving security and establishing a card system, what are the deadlines?

First of all, we will have to get started. Working groups are being created. Roadbooks and aspects that this group should focus on are being created. From then on we have the entire year of 2024 to start developing this work. In the medium term, the results will be visible, mainly from data analysis. We have to study what is happening carefully and then put solutions on the table. The organizers, together with the team and cyclists, will comply with these measures to improve safety.

Did they talk about date changes between courses? Therefore, in the classics there can be movements. LaVuelta has already changed its day from spring to summer.

No. It wasn't talked about. Not even at the level of commentary or 'off the record'. At no point did we talk about changing the dates of the big ones. Yes, you can talk about the calendar, but with more caution so that there may be some that do not coincide.

What does LaVuelta still need to improve?

We are fulfilling the theme of identity. We wanted a career with a lot of personality. We want a different race than the other two big ones. We want to have our own recognition. That when people see our leader's jersey, they say 'it's true that this is LaVuelta and not the other two races'. To improve, I think we can grow in the internationalization of our career. Continue to expand internationally as we have already done with a presence in France, Holland or Portugal. This is LaVuelta's biggest challenge at the moment. If in the medium term we can take the race to the Canary Islands, that is something we would like to do. But this is a particular challenge and we have to talk about general challenges.

There is a plan to end there in 2026, there is even an outline, according to MARCA, for these last three stages to end there.

It is not a design that the director of LaVuelta will sign at this time. In fact, he would like to be able to go to the Canary Islands as soon as possible. I don't want to discourage anyone, but 2025 is not a date we have in mind at the moment. But it must be a date close to 2025. If it is the 26th or 27th, welcome. But what is true is that it's time to start setting a date or stop talking about dates.

It is surprising that it is to finish the race, with the last three stages.

I'm even going to a room. If you asked me, it would be like this. But not everything depends on the director of LaVuelta.

And what is needed for the agreement to crystallize?

Above all, it is necessary to unite all wills. It's not an easy project. We worked a lot in previous governments. There are now new governments in both Gran Canaria and the Cabildos. The will exists, but the logistical challenge is not easy. We've already said what we want to do. The first thing is that we want to go to the Canary Islands. So we believe that the objective should be to at least be on two islands. And, from there, this means logistically moving an event with more than three thousand people, but it also means financing that is not easy to obtain. The challenge requires money, but it's worth it.

Speaking of 'roosters' who want to go to LaVuelta. Van der Poel has already said that this year is in the plans, are other stars confirmed?

I hope that happens. It will be great news. I always want to have the best. Last year we had a poster. I wish we could have the same or even improve it. It is also true that what we want is for the best to come. This year won't be so easy. But in the end we always end up with big names. The cyclists' big goal this year will be the Tour, but only one can win and from then on everyone has to be at LaVuelta. On the other hand, the 'duo' always goes through LaVuelta or Giro y Vuelta or Tour y Vuelta. This is what I consider to be the best formula for everyone.

Would it be preferable for the Jumbos not to occupy the top three places on the podium as happened this year?

What you want is for there to be competition, obviously. You're not going to criticize Jumbo for doing its job well or for bringing in good drivers who want to win. Ideally, there should be competition between different runners and teams because otherwise, in the end, there is a risk of what happened last year where there was a team order that determined that Kuss had to win. I wish there had been competition between them and that Kuss had won in the end, because one thing cannot be taken away by the other. We want rivalry between cyclists from different teams, that's ideal.

They had different types of problems, have you analyzed them to correct them?

If anyone has a plan to fix the fact that it rained on the first day, someone should bring it to me and we'll buy it from them. This was the incidence of the first day. I think the rest of the plans, the only issue that existed besides the rain or in Caravaca, were also circumstantial. I think the only notable thing was Remco Evenepoel's crash on the third stage in Andorra. Furthermore, sporting issues such as the neutralization of the second day, whether it will rain, which was the most discussed, do not depend on us or anyone else.

Looking beyond LaVuelta, how will the world of bike racing grow?

I think a great job is being done. At this moment, the corridors we have are the result of the work that exists and the great expansion. Everything happens to strengthen the big ones, the Monuments and the World Cup. Maybe we should also make some adjustments to the calendar so that there are no races that coincide like Tirreno and Paris Nice. From then on we will have to try to have a World Tour, ProSeries and non-ProSeries calendar so that all teams that want to participate in international cycling can do so. Of course, for starters, I don't think you need to go crazy because things are working. The UCI is working very well with the organizers, teams and riders to develop this calendar of the future. But, for me, it all depends on the possibility of the races not coinciding and the maximum number of great runners being present in the largest number of races.

In Spain, Galicia returned, Jan was born… will there be more races?

Could it be. The problem is that the calendar is what it is. The UCI has already said that in Spain we have many days of competition, which is good. I wouldn't bet so much on more days of competition, but rather on strengthening the races we have. It's great news to have Galicia and Jan. It's also great news that, year after year, the races ask for more days, as Asturias may ask, although they may or may not grant it later. But I would bet more on strengthening the tissue than enlarging it at this point.

What about the women's Tour? How will this grow?

In the same trend as women's cycling. We are certainly delighted with the result of last year's edition. It's a career that's here to stay. We are also very pleased with the result of the Tour de France last year. We have to insist on media coverage of LaVuelta. We have to ensure that there is more media monitoring so that the race reaches more people. Because it is clear that the product works, that the show is guaranteed. Runners give it day after day. What we have to do is that, what we see in the race, the rest can be seen by everyone at home on TV. This is the biggest challenge.

Regarding the LaVuelta invitations that we will soon learn about, will Caja Rural be bothered by what was recently published? Or is everything in order and there is no problem?

At this moment there is no different condition with Caja Rural than with the rest of the teams. It's true that we only have two invitations. We have already said that any criteria that the organization establishes is valid because it does not just have to be sporting, it can be commercial, territorial… In recent years we have put on the table, without it being a dogma, an alternation criterion that can also at a given moment serve to give clues as to what could happen in 2024 but, today, there is no condition. If there were, it would be posted and explained because we are clear about what we should do. But at the moment all the teams that could be invited are in the same conditions to do so.



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