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COVID spike prompts cancelation of Jumbo-Visma team presentation

Latest spike in the omicron variant is casting a chill on the peloton just when many hoped the 2022 season could return to normal.

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Just when the cycling world thought they were out, COVID-19 pulls them back in.

A rising spike of the omicron variant is playing out across Europe, and is already impacting cycling.

With a new round of restrictions being imposed on the Netherlands, Jumbo-Visma was forced to cancel its 2022 team presentation this week in Amsterdam.

Everyone within the elite peloton is bracing for what could see health restrictions and mediation efforts stay in place longer than many hoped.

“We’ve got another season to go through before we’re back to 100 percent normal,” BikeExchange-Jayco general manager Brent Copeland told VeloNews last week. “Cycling is doing a great job at dealing with the pandemic. We’ve gotten through two seasons with most of the major races, so everyone is hopeful with nearly everyone vaccinated next year is even better.”

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Since speaking with Copeland a little more than a week ago, the rate of infections is skyrocketing across Europe. And several nations are reimposing strict health guidelines ahead of the holiday season.

Teams were lucky to avoid the brunt of the latest outbreak, and many that were along Spain’s Mediterranean coast or other parts of Europe this month for pre-season camps safely sent everyone home for the holidays.

Most teams hope to regroup in Spain next month for traditional pre-season training camps, but that could change if the omicron variant continues to explode.

Cyclocross is already in the crosshairs, and the latest outbreak is impacting the winter discipline. Some events have already been canceled, including the Amsterdam World Cup in early December, and some races are being contested “behind closed doors.”

Road races in Australia were already canceled before omicron exploded this fall, and now some are wondering if other international races in the early part of the 2022 racing calendar might be impacted in the coming months.

Sources tell VeloNews that the UCI will keep its pandemic protocols, which include pre-race health screenings and social distancing measures, in place through at least March.

Teams and race organizers were hopeful in light of expansive vaccination rates across the peloton that the UCI could relax its pre-race health testing protocols, which require everyone inside the race bubble to be tested twice before a race and again for longer events. Those tests are costing larger teams and race organizers well into six figures annually.

The latest outbreak of omicron, however, could put a pall on the 2022 racing season just when everyone thought the worse was behind the sport.