Chris Froome, Joao Almeida, Peter Sagan and Elia Viviani will know on Monday if they will start the 2021 season at the Vuelta a San Juan, with their teams already working on alternative race calendars because new COVID-19 restrictions could mean the January 24-31 stage race is limited to local teams.
Froome, Almeida, Sagan and Viviani were announced as the headline line riders of the race two weeks ago, with Froome set to make his highly-anticipated debut with Israel Start-Up nation in South America.
A race bubble and testing protocol has been planned for the race, while the route was tailored to minimise the COVID-19 risk, with five of the seven stages starting and finishing at Autódromo El Villicúm.
However, the Argentinean government is expected to announce new restrictive health measures in the New Year as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the country and international arrivals expected to be restricted, especially from Europe, where COVID-19 cases remain high.
Cyclingnews understands a final decision on the race and teams will be made on Monday.
Deceuninck-QuickStep have already decided 2020 winner Remco Evenepeol will start his 2021 season elsewhere, with Deceuninck-QuickStep team manager Patrick Lefevere pessimistic about the Vuelta a San Juan.
"For us, it’s pretty obvious, the race won’t take place,” he told L’Equipe, describing the growing number of cancelled races as “serious.”
With the Tour Down Under changed to a Festival of Cycling and just national level four-day stage races, the other Australian races, the Tour Colombia and the Tour of Antalya in Turkey cancelled, the men’s WorldTour teams are trying to redesign their early-season race calendars and keep their riders racing and happy.
Most teams are now expected to hold warm-weather training camps in Europe, with Ineos Grenadiers expected to gather in Gran Canaria on January 3, other teams head to the Spanish mainland and UAE Team Emirates travel to Abu Dhabi.
Teams are fighting for places in the early-season European races, with the Challenge Mallorca races (January 28-31), the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (February 3-7), the Etoile de Bessèges in France (February 3-7), the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal (February 17-21) and the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol (February 17-21) attracting massive interest from WorldTour teams.
The 2021 WorldTour will begin with the UAE Tour (February 21-27) and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday February 27. The Tour of Rwanda (February 21-28) is scheduled to go ahead too, with Israel Start-Up Nation and Total Direct Energie among the teams announced.
The Saudi Tour (February 2-6) and the Tour of Oman (February 9-14) remain on the UCI calendar but are marked TBC (to be confirmed), with race organiser ASO has still to announce any route and team information for both races.
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