The 2021 Volta ao Algarve has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Portugal’s biggest stage race is a popular starting point in the season for many big-name riders, but the 2021 edition has been pushed back.
The decision to postpone the race, officially announced on Thursday (January 21), will upset the plans of plenty of WorldTour teams, as 14 top-tier squads had planned to start on February 17.
A statement from the organisers said: “The Portuguese Cycling Federation, organiser of Volta ao Algarve, today informed all partners and teams that the race will not be able to take place on the scheduled date, February 17-21. Postponement is a difficult decision, but it has become inevitable, given the evolution of the pandemic situation in Portugal.
“The organisation of Volta ao Algarve is aware that legitimate expectations were created for an excellent sports event, however the general context of the country imposes a postponement that signals the commitment of the Portuguese Cycling Federation to the defence of public health and motivation to offer fans a high quality race at another time of the year.”
The race has now been provisionally postponed until May 5, which means it will overlap with the Giro d’Italia.
Portugal has been experiencing a rapid increase in coronavirus cases since January 1, with 5,400 people hospitalised in one day earlier this week, along with 219 deaths and 14,000 new cases.
The pandemic had already impacted the 2021 season, as the first WorldTour event of the year the Tour Down Under was cancelled, while there are still serious doubts about the fate of the Tokyo Olympics later this year.
Many riders are expected to start their seasons next month either in the UAE Tour or in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.
Last year’s Volta ao Algarve was dominated by Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), who won two stages and added the overall victory to his 100 per cent success rate in all four stage races he entered last year.