Road

Dutch authorities cast doubt over Amstel Gold Race this October

Mass gatherings are permitted in the Netherlands from September 1, but Dutch Prime Minister casts doubt over Amstel Gold Race this October.

The men’s and women’s Amstel Gold Race have been penciled into the UCI’s new 2020 calendar for October 10, but the race is still far from guaranteed.

Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands has cast doubt over whether the race can go ahead or not. Major sporting events in the country are due to go ahead from September 1 as the Netherlands eases itself out of its coronavirus lockdown, however, Rutte is “not happy” about the prospect of holding the WorldTour Race.

“Whether or not sporting events can continue in an adapted form? I have no idea,” Rutte said Friday.

“I am not very happy about the large group of events that require a permit. Encouraging cyclists — they can become a super-spreader if you’re not careful. I hope that in the coming weeks more will be found out about how the virus spreads. It is really still a big question mark.”

Like countries throughout Europe, the Netherlands is cautiously emerging from a spell of confinement, with certain businesses due to re-open in the coming weeks. However, Dutch authorities are postponing the resumption of events drawing mass crowds until September so they can monitor the evolution of the virus.

The nation’s health minister is pushing for a delay on large-scale events until a vaccine for COVID-19 is found, which could put a further halt on sports returning to the country. Despite the concerns, Amstel Gold Race director Leo van Vliet is remaining positive.

“We will see what we need to do organizationally, but for me the glass is half full,” van Vliet said. “Everything is now arranged. We are a small organization. We are very flexible and we can achieve great things.”

While there is still a chance that Amstel Gold can go ahead this fall, the Netherlands will not be hosting the opening stages of the Vuelta a España, as had been planned earlier in the year. With the Vuelta now pushed back to start October 20, the ‘Dutch start’ organizing committee has confirmed that there are too many logistical problems in hosting the three planned stages in the fall. The Vuelta will now follow an 18-day format rather than attempting to replace the three Netherlands stages.