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Coronavirus: UCI extends race suspension to June 1

The WorldTour peloton
The WorldTour peloton (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The UCI has extended the suspension of all road racing and other events until Monday, June 1 as it tries to create a new post Covid-19 calendar for the second half of the season that takes into account various different virus scenarios and tries to help and protect the biggest races in the sport.

After a lengthy conference call between the UCI and the representative associations of race organisers (AIOCC), teams (AIGCP) and riders (CPA) on Wednesday, the sport's governing body accepted that racing cannot be held for at least a further two months, as the world continues to fight to slow the spread of the deadly virus.   

The UCI also agreed to create a working group that looks at requests from teams for possible rider salary sacrifices. The Lotto-Soudal and Astana teams have already announced temporary rider pay cuts and others have put team staff on state benefit programmes. 

Other major teams are expected to ask riders to take significant pay cuts as sponsors struggle or refuse to respect their sponsorship agreement after Covid-19 had a massive impact on their business.

The spread of the Covid-19 virus around Europe and the rest of the world has led most nations to impose strict lockdown and social distancing measures to try to slow the spread of the virus and the use of vital medical services. 

Any subsequent return to normal life, permission for professional riders to train outdoors and for races to be held in public depend on the outcome of the fight against Covid-19.

"Following the meeting, given the severity of the health situation throughout the world, the UCI and its stakeholders unanimously decided to prolong the suspension of cycling competitions until 1 June 2020, and until further notice. The UCI also decided that this extension would apply to all cycling disciplines and all categories of riders," read a UCI press statement.

"Confirming the principle of a prolongation of the men’s and women’s road season, announced on 18 March, the UCI does not exclude the possibility of pushing back the end of the season depending on the date racing resumes, when this is known."

"In its role of governing body of our sport, the UCI is working on a framework for the future UCI International Road Calendar, based on its exchanges with the stakeholders and giving priority to the three Grands Tours and cycling’s Monuments. The result of this internal work will be communicated when the conditions are right."

The UCI had already announced the suspension of all racing until the end of April, wiping out the Spring Classics calendar. The new extension means all races in May will also be cancelled or postponed, adding to the hundreds of race who hope to find a new slot on the second half of the season. 

According to a report by La Gazzetta dello Sport, the 2020 season will be extended into November so that as many races as possible can held.

The new date of June 1 will impact races beyond the May slot of the Giro d'Italia, with the Critérium du Dauphiné in France, scheduled for May 31-June 7, caught up in the new racing suspension. The week-long French stage race is considered a key build-up race for the Tour de France and so the sport's biggest Grand Tour may also be forced to move back from its original date of June 27-July 19.

The UCI confirmed that it has received more than 450 requests for the postponement or cancellation of events, of which a large majority concern road cycling.

Before the conference call, UCI vice-president Renato Di Rocco has revealed that July 1, July 15 and August 1 are now considered as possible dates for the start of the post-coronavirus calendar, with the Tour de France seen as vital for the survival of a number of major men's teams. 

Other races will be rescheduled for after the Tour de France, with the Vuelta a España likely to stick to its late August date, while the Giro d'Italia could be moved as far back as October. The one-day Classics and other races are expected to held in early August and late September, fitting around the Road World Championships scheduled for September 20-27.

However, any return to racing will only begin when cases of Covid-19 have fallen dramatically, countries have emerged from lockdown and life begins to return to normal.

The UCI called for all the stakeholders in cycling to stay united as the world tries to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic.

"In this extremely difficult context, the UCI – as cycling’s world body – will continue its consultations with the different families to find the best solutions for our sport. In this period of widespread incertitude, which is weakening the financial situation of all involved, the UCI again calls on everyone to be united, responsible and strong."