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Riddle of the Sands - Vuelta stars perplexed by beachfront team time trial course

Stretches of sand and wooden boardwalk feature in Saturday's Spanish Grand Tour opener...

Pro cyclists undertaking reconnaissance of the route of Saturday’s team time trial at the Vuelta, including Tour de France champion Chris Froome, have taken to social media to express bewilderment and concern at a section of the course where they will be riding on sand.

This morning, the Team Sky star tweeted pictures showing a stretch of the 7.4 kilometre course from Puerto Banus to Marbella on the Costa del Sol, which besides sand also show a stretch of wooden boardwalk each of the nine-man teams will have to negotiate.

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Nicolas Roche, team mate of the 2011 and 2014 Vuelta runner-up, was rather more forthright.

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Movistar rider Rory Sutherland, who will be riding in support of Tour de France podium finishers Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde, called on the UCI to explain whether the course was acceptable.

He also suggested - tongue in cheek we hope - that he might give the time trial bike a miss for this one.

Some Twitter users poked a bit of fun at it – here’s Scott O’Raw from Velocast’s take.

Finally, blogger Inner Ring pointed out another rather unusual Grand Tour stage from nearly four decades ago, when the 12 kilometre Stage 14 time trial in the Giro d’Italia in Venice was won by Francesco Moser.

If any of the peloton want tips for how to handle the sand on Saturday, perhaps they could ask’s own David Arthur? He took part the howies Battle on the Beach in Wales earlier this year – and filmed the opening lap.

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Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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