The 2020 UCI Road World Championships are set to go ahead as planned in Aigle-Martigny in September. Despite previous concerns that the coronavirus restrictions in place in Switzerland might cause the event to be moved elsewhere, the local organising committee has confirmed that it is continuing to work towards hosting the Worlds from September 20-27.
In a statement on Friday afternoon, the organising committee also announced that the 2020 Swiss national championships will be held on the Worlds circuit on August 22, describing the event as 'a proper rehearsal'.
"After examining the health conditions and restrictions implemented by the Swiss Federal Council, in agreement with the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the Cantons of Vaud and Valais and the communes of Aigle and Martigny, the Organising Committee is moving ahead to finalise the organisation of the event," the Worlds organisers said on Friday.
Switzerland has begun easing its lockdown restrictions in recent weeks, and as of this week has started to allow gatherings of up to 1,000 people, provided contact tracing can be guaranteed. Public gatherings – including sporting events – of more than 1,000 people remain prohibited until the end of August.
Doubts over the feasibility of holding the Worlds in Aigle and Martigny had surfaced in April, following the postponement of a large part of the cycling calendar due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Marca reported in May that the UCI was examining the prospect of moving the event to a later date at an alternative venue in Oman, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates.
The organising committee in Switzerland maintained then that a decision on the Aigle-Martigny Worlds would be taken in late June. Friday’s announcement means the Worlds remain on the calendar for the week after the rescheduled Tour de France, though the co-presidents of the committee preached caution in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Today, we are continuing to prepare for our event. We are very grateful for the trust from the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), local authorities, our sponsors, the huge number of volunteers that have registered and are very pleased about our cycling fans passion for our race and its exceptional circuit," said Grégory Devaud and Alexandre Debons.
"We need to remain cautious in view of the world health situation but the organisation of the Swiss Road Championships on 22 August 2020 on our circuit is a strong sign that will validate our approach and help us fine-tune our procedures."
Patrick Hunger, co-president of the management board of Swiss Cycling, welcomed the decision to hold the national championships on the demanding Aigle-Martigny course and expressed hope that the Worlds will proceed as planned.
"We are pleased that the improvement of the health situation will hopefully allow the 2020 UCI Road World Championships of Aigle-Martigny to go ahead. Various measures to promote Swiss Cycling at this event have already been taken," Hunger said. "This positive development will also give our riders the chance to compete in the UCI Road World Championships in front of their public. We can hardly think of a better objective for them during this unusual season."
The Swiss time trial championships will take place in Belp on July 12, but both of the country's WorldTour events – the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de Suisse – will not take place in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2020 Worlds remain in their original slot of September 20-27 despite the revisions to the UCI calendar that saw the Tour de France shift from July to its new date of August 29-September 20.
The elite men’s individual time trial is currently scheduled to take place on the opening day of the Worlds and thus clash with the final stage of the Tour. The elite women’s and under-23 men’s time trials are fixed for the following day, while the team time trial mixed relay – the curtain-raiser in Yorkshire last year – is on Wednesday, September 23.
The elite women’s and men’s road races will take place on the weekend of September 26-27.
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