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Thirty international teams want to race Volta ao Algarve

Interest spiking in early season races in Europe as teams are hesitant to travel internationally during pandemic.

With so much uncertainty going into next season, teams are not wanting to stray far from the European base going into the opening months of 2021.

Officials from the Volta ao Algarve confirmed Monday that 30 international teams have requested a spot in the five-day race held February 17-21 in southern Portugal.

“Thirty teams outside Portugal have already requested an invitation to the Portuguese race on the ProSeries circuit,” according to a press release Monday. Official selection of 16 WorldTour teams, along with other Portuguese and second-tier teams, will come in the upcoming weeks, officials said.

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The spike in interest for the already popular Algarve race confirms a growing trend among other early season races in Europe. Events such as the Ruta del Sol in Spain and early season French races have seen teams angling for spots to race their riders without having to risk international travel.

The news comes on the heels of the confirmation that the Colombia Tour 2.1 is canceling its February dates for 2021.

Other races, such as the Santos Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, are also off the schedule in January and February. Down Under officials, however, are holding a pro-am event in January that will feature racing but will not be on the WorldTour calendar.

Most teams are looking at duplicating the “race bubble” concept that worked successfully in 2020, and carry that into the opening part of the 2021 season, with riders and staffers training and staying in isolated hotels during early season training camps.

It’s unsure how many other early season races beyond Europe will be impacted due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which continues to rage.

So far, officials from the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina say their event is still on the schedule. Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) confirmed last week they will attend.