Racing returns in Germany with grid start and distanced podium

Bike racing returned in Germany at the weekend, with a number of measures to reduce the risk of coronavirus contagion, including a grid start. 

Although the UCI has suspended racing (opens in new tab) until July, events that aren't UCI-sanctioned, such as the HTV Cup in Vietnam (opens in new tab), have been able to go ahead. 

The Sachsenring-Radrennen, held on the Sachsenring motor-racing circuit that hosted the German national championships last year, celebrated its 72nd edition on Sunday. 

A number of anti-COVID-19 measures were in place, with the field limited to 50 riders from Continental teams and young riders from the national squad. 

Riders collected their race numbers from individual pigeon holes, while sign-on was conducted behind screens by staff wearing masks. Ahead of the race, shoes and bikes were cleaned with disinfectant wipes. 

The riders then headed onto the circuit for a 'socially distanced' grid start, in which they were positioned at least two metres apart using the markings laid out for the motor cars. 

Immediately after the start was given, however, the riders set off and formed into a peloton. 

It was reminiscent of the Tour de France grid start from 2018, although that was designed to enhance the spectacle rather than a health measure.

Tobias Nolde won the 122-kilometre race, crossing the line alongside his P&S Metalltechnik teammate Immanuel Stark. Nolde had broken clear in the last hour, while Stark marked a counter-attack before making his way across and handing his teammate the victory. 

Stefan Brandlmeier (Hrinkow Advarics Cycleang) took the final podium spot. 

The UCI calendar resumes in July, with the Sibiu Tour in Romania from July 2-5 marking the return. WorldTour racing resumes with Strade Bianche on August 1.

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