The 2020 Tour Down Under hangs in the balance due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with race organisers set to make a decision on whether it will go ahead in January next week.
The stage race usually opens the WorldTour season, with European-based riders enjoying a bit of warm weather riding and, for those who’ve found new employment, an opportunity to meet their new team-mates.
Concerns over the safety of flying in riders from across the world as Europe begins confronting a second wave of the pandemic are being taken seriously, however, with organisers still trying to find a way to make the race, which delivers millions of dollars to the South Australian economy, safe enough to take place.
“There are a lot of moving parts in making a decision like this. There are many, many stakeholders, and we have been working closely with them to ensure we arrive at the best possible outcome for all concerned,” the Tour Down Under said in a statement.
“The Santos Tour Down Under is an important event for South Australia, and it’s for that reason that we are ensuring we take as much time as necessary to consider fully whether it’s possible to deliver a safe and successful Santos Tour Down Under for South Australia, our event partners, the UCI and the Teams.”
The race is currently considering alternative scenarios if they are unable to hold the men’s and women’s races in January, with the 2020 calendar having been forced to play fast and loose with where races should take place throughout the year. They will also try and hold at least some sort of cycling event for their region in January.
“We have also been considering alternate scenarios if we are unable to deliver the Santos Tour Down Under with UCI men’s and women’s races in January, including how to present cycling in some format in South Australia in January,” the statement continued.
“We expect to be in a position to announce our decision within the next week.”
Australia successfully managed to stop a second coronavirus wave developing in August, one of their final months of winter, and have now been registering only a handful of new cases every day while cases in European countries rocket into the tens of thousands as they enter their coldest months.
The 2020 season should end unseasonably late on November 9 when the Vuelta a España reaches Madrid, with the WorldTour then scheduled to resume on January 19 with the Tour Down Under.
The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race then takes place on January 31 before the UAE Tour begins on February 21, the Middle Eastern stage race having been abandoned last year after a coronavirus outbreak forced several teams into lockdown.