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Organizers from both men’s WorldTour events confirmed a one-year hiatus Sunday, a result of 14-day quarantine measures in place in Australia and travel difficulties for riders jetting into the race from around the globe.
“The Santos Tour Down Under is a much-loved event on the world cycling and Australian sporting calendars and we know how important this event is to the people of South Australia. It is for that reason we have done all we can to consider how we can deliver it, but unfortunately in the end it was the international component, with over 400 people that make up the international teams, that proved to be the most difficult to overcome” Executive Director of Events South Australia Hitaf Rasheed said Sunday.
“We’re devastated we won’t be opening the UCI WorldTour one-day racing season in January,” Cadel Evans said of his event, which ran for the sixth time in 2020. “But this decision has been made by putting the health and safety of our riders, event partners, spectators, workforce, volunteers and broader community first.”
There has been rumor of the potential cancelation for some weeks as the impacts of coronavirus begin to creep into 2021. This summer, the Herald Sun Tour confirmed the 2021 event would be canceled due to complications caused by the global health crisis.
The weeklong Tour Down Under was set to start the men’s WorldTour season January 19 with a women’s race taking place January 14. Nearby Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race was set to take place the following weekend, made up of a one-day men’s race and the opening event of the Women’s WorldTour.
Both races will return in 2022.
Tour Down Under officials confirmed that they will instead host a lower-key “domestic cycling festival.”
“Of course I am disappointed, but given the challenges, our priority needs to be the health and safety of South Australians, our communities, and the international cycling fraternity,” Rasheed said. “I believe that for one year we can put delivering an international event aside, and keep our South Australian heart beating by delivering a new, re-imagined event for cyclists and for communities across the nation.”
The news comes as increasingly tight restrictions clamp down in Europe, with much of Spain, France and the UK enduring a second round of lockdowns.
Meanwhile, the Vuelta a España is set to enter its final week Monday, and has been deemed a success in controlling concerns around COVID, with no riders testing positive in mandatory testing protocol so far.