Organizers of the Vuelta a San Juan are determined to deliver their race in the face of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Race director Roberto Amadio spoke this week to explain that local authorities are backing the January race and are confident that the relatively stable conditions in the region will allow the event to go ahead in its typical week-long format.
“The government of San Juan, Governor Sergio Uñac, and the Minister of Sports all want the race to take place despite the problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Amadio told TuttoBici. “Fortunately, the number of cases in San Juan is quite low as it is an isolated region of the country. This has helped ensure that the race takes place.”
The news offers a lifeline to the early-season calendar, which has been uprooted by the cancelation of the Tour Down Under which was to open the WorldTour season. The following Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and Jayco Herald Sun Tour were also scrubbed for 2021.
With nations around the globe redoubling their efforts to combat COVID-19, quarantine measures in place in Australia rendered it unfeasible for teams to make the long trip Down Under from bases in Europe. Reports suggest that special dispensations will be in place to prevent such measures for teams traveling to Argentina for Vuelta a San Juan.
The Vuelta a San Juan is not a WorldTour race, but has come to be used as an alternative to the Australian races for teams looking to jump-start their seasons. Deceuninck-Quick-Step hotshot Remco Evenepoel won last year’s race in a field that also included Bora-Hansgrohe, UAE Team Emirates, Israel Start-Up Nation, and Team Movistar.
The 2021 edition may be smaller in scale but could generate a lot of competition for spaces as squads scramble to find opportunities for competition as COVID-19 continues to put races around the world at threat.
“A lot of teams are planning for 2021 and in contact,” Amadio said. “They want to get back racing, and the teams we’ve contacted have confirmed their interest. The budget has been reduced, but there will be three or four WorldTour teams and four or five [second tier] ProTeams.”