Nearly a million turned out to watch opening stages of La Vuelta

The riders roll out at the start of stage two in Den Bosch. Photo: Belga Photo/Luc Claessen

Nearly a million people turned out to watch the opening days of this year’s Vuelta a España cycle race in the Netherlands, organisers say.

La Vuelta Holanda, the team in charge of the race for the opening three stages in Utrecht and Breda, said 12,500 spectators attended the team presentation on Thursday evening and 260,000 lined the streets of Utrecht for Friday’s team time trial, won by Jumbo-Visma.

Saturday’s stage from Den Bosch to Utrecht was watched by 375,000 people, while 350,000 saw the third stage that started and finished in Breda. Both were won by Irish sprinter Sam Bennett.

Another 2.1 million people in the Netherlands followed Sunday’s stage on television, according to NOS figures.

The route was given a fiesta flavour with music, stalls and Spanish slogans painted on overhead bridges, although farmers also used the occasion to amplify their protests against the government’s plans to cut nitrogen emissions.

Race director Javier Guillén said the Netherlands was a country that ‘breathes bicycles and that we have taken to our hearts’. ‘We felt at home here,’ he said.

The race continues on Tuesday in the Basque capital of Vitoria-Gasteiz and will finish in Madrid on September 11.

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