The start of the 2022 cycling season, with the absence once more of the Tour Down Under and Vuelta a San Juan, is starting to look more like 2021 than the pre-pandemic times of 2020, and the prospect of a cancelled Saudi Tour is adding to the likeness.
Not due to coronavirus concerns, however, but a "terror threat", after a car exploded at the Dakar Rally in the country last week.
The off-road endurance rally event has been held in Saudi Arabia since 2020, the previous decade's races hosted in South America, moved to the continent after security threats in Mauritania forced the cancellation of the 2008 rally.
The event is hosted by the Amaury Sports Organisation, who also run the Tour de France, Vuelta a España, Paris-Nice and the Saudi Tour, which is now not guaranteed to go ahead on February 1-5, according to Zikoland.
A week ago a support car for the rally exploded in front of a hotel, with driver Philippe Boutron seriously injured and the French foreign minister later saying it was an attack.
Saudi Arabia is currently engaged in conflict with Houthi rebels from Yemen, which borders Saudi Arabia to the south. In 2021, the rebels carried out more than 20 terror attacks on Saudi Arabia.
The 2021 Saudi Tour was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the 2022 is set to be only the second-ever edition of the race after its debut in February 2020, which was won Bahrain-Victorious' Phil Bauhaus.
The Dakar Rally, which runs from January 1-14, will continue for the time being, but ASO and Saudi Arabia will be watching to see if it's safe enough to host the 2.1-level race next month.
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