Six things to look forward to as racing returns
From pro racing to amateur time trials, there’s plenty to be excited about
It’s been a bizarre year for all of us so far.
Aside from the impact on everyday life, coronavirus has also caused upheaval in the cycling world both at home and around the world.
But July looks like the month when we could see some return to normality, with both professional and amateur racing scheduled to return.
After an unsettling few months, the return of bike racing and other events will be welcomed by cycling fans.
Here are just a few of the things we’re looking forward to as racing returns this month:
The first big race
While WorldTour racing isn’t schedule to return until August, we’ll be given a glimpse of exciting racing in Spain this month.
The Vuelta a Burgos kicks off on July 28 with plenty of WorldTour teams taking part.
Taking place over five stages in northern Spain, we’ll get to see the likes of Remco Evenpoel, Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren) and world champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) in action after a long lay-off.
Classics are back
The redesigned WorldTour calendar means the regular spring Classics period has been completely shaken up, with prestigious one-day events spread throughout the year right through to November.
WorldTour racing will kick off with the men’s and women’s editions of Strade Bianche on August 1 as we’ll see the peloton race around Tuscany in Italian summer for the first time.
Winner of the 2019 edition Annemiek Van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) will be there, along with Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) in the men’s race and Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step).
The following week the one-day races will continue with the first Monument of 2020, Milan-San Remo.
Cold and rain is less likely to be a factor this year as the race has moved from its usual March spot, so the heat could be decisive instead.
After a few months off, it’s going to be a feisty and tetchy start for many riders.
There hasn’t just been a void in bike racing over the last few months, but an absence of almost all sport.
That has now come to an end as plenty of sports are returning to the TV screens, giving us plenty to enjoy.
Once bike racing returns, it’s going to be a jam-packed schedule so make sure you make time to watch your favourite races.
With 22 WorldTour races packed into just four months between August and November, including three Grand Tours and all the Monuments, it’s going to be busy.
There is also a historic moment to keep an eye on – the first ever women’s Paris-Roubaix on October 25.
The return of time trials
While bunch racing is still not back yet in the UK, we’re lucky enough to have a strong competitive scene perfectly suited to social distancing – time trialling.
Governing body Cycling Time Trials has given the green light for racing to start once again (with some health and safety restrictions in place), and now could be the perfect time to give it a try if you’re not already a convert.
Clubs can now organise their local events while the bigger Open events are also starting again over the next few weeks, and with no bunch racing until August 1 they could prove popular.
Venues are opening
More good news for cyclists is that riding venues can now re-open after months of being closed.
Velodromes like Herne Hill in South London and facilities like the outdoor circuits at Lee Valley VeloPark can open their doors once again, meaning you can train and ride off the roads.
Most venues are allowing riders in by appointment only, so make sure you check the website to find yourself a slot.
Innovative new race formats
An exciting new development has come from the bizarre year – an innovative new race format.
With social distancing currently ruling out cyclocross races, some organisers have put together CX time trials to help keep your off-road skills honed.
>>> Geraint Thomas confirms his schedule for racing return
Triathlon specialists Take3 have organised a Thursday-night series in Oxfordshire from August 13, with details still to be firmed up.
Hopefully we’ll see more of these type of races popping up over the coming weeks.
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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