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2020 Road World Championships in Switzerland cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions

2020 UCI Road World Championships organisers Alexandre Debons and Grégory Devaud with UCI president David Lappartient – and event mascot Barry the St. Bernard – at the unveiling of the championships' routes
UCI president with Aigle-Martigny organising committee co-chairs Alexandre Debons and Grégory Devaud at the Road World Championships route presentation (Image credit: UCI)

The UCI has confirmed that the 2020 Road World Championships in Aigle-Martigny, Switzerland, set for September 20-27, have been cancelled but hope a new location can be found for at least some of the races. 

The decision comes after an August 12 meeting of the Swiss Federal Council resulted in an extension to the current anti-COVID-19 measures in the country, restricting public gatherings and major events to under 1,000 people until September 30.

"The Organising Committee of the 2020 UCI Road World Championships Aigle-Martigny has taken note of the Swiss Federal Council Ordinance on measures to combat the COVID-19 epidemic in special situations, which stipulates that major events with more than 1,000 visitors or involving more than 1,000 people are prohibited until 30 September 2020," read a statement issued by the UCI.

 "As a result, the organisation of the 2020 UCI Road World Championships in Aigle and Martigny is impossible, all the more so as 45 countries are subject to quarantine for entry into Switzerland on 8 August, which would not allow the event to have the desired impact and would deprive a large number of the 1200 riders, from juniors to elite riders, from 90 countries, of the opportunity to come and defend their chances.

"With eleven events over eight days, the specificities of a circuit race in terms of social distancing and the flow of spectators constitute an insurmountable obstacle with strong constraints."

Grégory Devaud and Alexandre Debons, co-chairs of the organising committee, said that they were "sad and disappointed" by the news, which takes what would've been among the toughest Worlds races since Duitama in 1995, off the 2020 calendar.

"We are sad and disappointed. We have worked hard for almost two years to deliver a magnificent event on an extraordinary course," they said.

"We are aware that the national and world health situation requires cautionary measures and we are thinking strongly of all those who have been affected by this scourge."

A move to Italy?

UCI president David Lappartient last month said that there was "no plan B" for the World Championships should Switzerland be unable to host the races. However there have been suggestions that at least the elite men's and women's road race titles could be saved, with Italy – where COVID-19 cases remain under control – the front runner to host the races. 

Reports in Italy have suggested Emilia Romagna and Veneto could help out the UCI and organise some kind of World Championships. Emilia Romagna hosted the Grande Partenza of the 2019 Giro d'Italia and hopes to host the first ever Italian Tour de France Grande Départ. Former rider Filippo Pozzato will organise the Italian National Championships on August 22 and could also step and help save the World Championships. However the Italian Federation president Renato di Rocco suggested the Italian regions lacked the financial resources to rapidly organise a major event.

The UCI confirmed a deadline of September 1 for any final decision.

"Given the sporting importance of the UCI Road World Championships for cycling, the UCI would like to clarify that it will work towards finding an alternative project to ensure the 2020 edition of the event can take place, with the priority being in Europe and at the dates initially scheduled," the UCI said in a statement. 

"It could include all or some of the planned races. The UCI will look for a host city that would be able to provide a route as challenging as that in Aigle-Martigny and which would therefore suit the same type of riders who had initially planned to participate in Switzerland.

"Conscious that time is of the essence for the athletes, the National Federations and all implicated parties, the UCI will communicate more information as soon as possible and will take a final decision by 1st September at the latest."