Just as the coronavirus is throwing the European pro cycling calendar into disarray, UCI president David Lappartient hinted that the Giro d’Italia and other, recently canceled one-day races will be rescheduled for later in the season.
In hopes that Europe can escape the clutches of a growing health crisis by summer, the UCI president told French television that the cycling federation is already looking for space on the calendar for the Giro and cycling’s cycling’s monuments in the fall, thus extending the European racing season until the end of October and adjusting other races on the calendar.
“The first possibility is to reprogram these cycling monuments in the fall,” Lappartient told France TV. “For this we have the possibility of postponing the end of the season by two weeks, that is until October 31. By then we will also study how to move certain race dates, so as to make room for everyone.”
On Wednesday, the UCI outlined in a press release additional steps it hopes to implement to the racing calendar — if and when conditions improve. The UCI said unaffected races currently on the calendar will be given priority, and said that the men’s calendar could see races overlapping in the event of rescheduling already canceled events. As he told French TV, Lappartient said the racing season could extend until November 1.
Lappartient, interviewed from his home in Brittany where he is also mayor, confirmed the UCI is working with Giro organizers RCS Sport to find space on the calendar for the Italian grand tour, likely in a reduced form, with all stages within Italy. Less complicated are the one-day classics, which can be slotted in later in the season if and when health authorities give the OK.
As of now, there is no contingency plan that the Tour de France will need to be rescheduled or delayed. The hope is that by July, restrictions will have been lifted and the health crisis will subside. Lappartient also raised the question of road security, and said organizers need to count on the help of local police, currently at high alert with the coronavirus, to help control road closures.
“We are working with RCS, the organizer, to find a place, probably in the fall at the Giro,” he said. “The Giro could be redesigned and maybe not for the same duration, but the Giro, along with the canceled classics, is obviously one of our priorities and we are hopeful that it will run. Regarding the Tour, for the moment nothing is moving.”
Lappartient warned that if the 2020 Olympic Games are postponed until the fall, rescheduling road racing events “would be impossible.” The Frenchman said, following a call with IOC officials this week, that the Olympics are still being planned to be held on its scheduled date.
Lappartient confirmed the UCI is losing some of its income stream from the spike in cancelation of races — the UCI receives licensing fees from events as part of its annual 40-million-euro budget — and signaled that the cycling federation has had to tap into its financial reserves.
Lappartient also revealed that the UCI took out an insurance policy last summer to cover the possible loss of its payment from the International Olympic Committee. The IOC pays the UCI 25 million euros as part of the Olympic fund kitty, and with an insurance policy that cost the UCI 250,000 euros, the UCI would still receive 10 million euros in the event that the Games might be canceled.
“There are significant consequences, dramatic, no,” he said of the impact of the health crisis on the UCI. “Despite everything, the UCI is a governing body that has a budget smaller than some teams.”