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Amstel Gold Race canceled amid tightening COVID-19 restrictions

Amstel Gold Race has been canceled amid tightening COVID-19 restrictions in The Netherlands. It's the first interruption in the race's 54-year history.

Dutch race organizers have called off the Amstel Gold Race and Amstel Gold Race Ladies edition due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The races were slated to take place next Saturday, October 10 in the Limburg region of The Netherlands.

The country’s recent tightening of health and public safety restrictions around COVID-19 led to the cancelation of the event. On Monday the Dutch government announced COVID-19 rules that are to remain in place for the next three weeks, and the rules banned fans from attending sporting events.

The Netherlands is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 positives, and according to reports 3,000 people each day are being recorded this week.

According to a release, the final decision was made by the three organizing municipalities of the event, as well as the South Limburg Safety Region.

“With the condition ‘no public’ it became an almost impossible task,” said Leo van Vliet, race director of the Amstel Gold Race. “From Tuesday morning, we consulted with representatives of the Security Region and the municipalities. In their final deliberation, the mayors determined that they could not guarantee a public free race. To our regret, the security region came with a decision, and needless to say, we cannot do anything else but respect this decision. However, we look forward to returning next year with a fantastic race.”

According to van Vliet, the organizing committee tried multiple plans to stage the event amid the tightening restrictions. In recent weeks organizers realized that the traditional route, which crosses 10 municipalities, was impossible to stage. Thus, the group came up with a shorter circuit of 16.9 kilometers for the race, and organizers planned to close off the course to spectators.

Organizers were preparing to announce the change on Monday, however, the Dutch governments tightened restrictions made even this plan impossible.

“Until last Monday, we were 95 percent convinced that the Amstel Gold Race could continue with a closed course,” said Jan Schrijen, mayor of the Valkenberg municipality. “Due to the new measure, sporting events can only take place without an audience. The three municipalities and the Safety Region have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to organize the Amstel Gold Race, even on a closed course, without spectators. Residents and holidaymakers staying in the area cannot be denied entry. And that means that there is no guarantee that the course will be public free.”

The decision follows the news on Wednesday that the Dutch stages of the BinckBank Tour would also be called off due to the tightening restrictions around COVID-19.

Amstel Gold Race is now the biggest event to be called off due to COVID-19 since the restart of the 2020 WorldTour season back in August. There are seven races remaining on the 2020 men’s WorldTour calendar and six remaining on the Women’s WorldTour calendar.

The cancelation marks the first interruption in the event’s 54-year history.