The organisers of the BinckBank Tour have been forced to cancel the second stage and rethink the rest of the race.
After the opening sprint stage, won by Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates), race management were informed that the Dutch regions set to host the event had banned bike racing due to new coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands.
>> Subscribe to Cycling Weekly this Autumn and save 35%. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<
The stage two time trial, 10.9km in Vlissingen, has been cancelled as a result, while the routes for stages three and four will have to be redesigned last minute.
A statement Gert Van Goolen, head of BinckBank Tour organiser Golazo, said: “We are of course very disappointed that this decision has been taken, especially given the late hour. Cycling races are mainly experienced at the start and the finish and they have been made public in this BinckBank Tour, as in the Netherlands in the meantime.
“We are convinced that we have found a safe and responsible solution to organise a good BinckBank Tour, but unfortunately that was not met.”
The news emerged on Tuesday night as the Dutch municipalities where the race is due to start and finish on stages two, three and four, have jointly decided to ban bike racing.
Almost 3,000 new cases of coronavirus are being recorded each day in the Netherlands, with new measures being put in place on Tuesday to try and curb the spread, including restaurants and bars being forced to close by 10pm and fans being banned from attending sports events.
The BinckBank Tour organiser said it had committed to holding the race almost spectator free, with start and finish areas made off limits to fans while spectators were told to watch from home and not travel to the race.
Wednesday will now be a rest day instead of the planned TT, while stage three will no longer start in Philippine and on Friday the race will not travel to Limburg or finish in Sittard-Geleen as planned.
The organisers said alternatives will be worked out quickly, but the race should still continue until Saturday.