Organisers of the Ronde van Drenthe Women's WorldTour and men's 1.1-ranked races are already appealing to the UCI for a move from the normal March dates to October in 2021 in order to avoid another cancellation because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2020 Women's WorldTour race was scheduled for March 15 at the very beginning of the pandemic in Europe when cases in the Netherlands were averaging less than 100 new COVID-19 diagnoses per day. The latest figures are over 10,000 new cases per day and rising.
The UCI published its 2021 calendars, with the Women's WorldTour race scheduled for Sunday March 14. But with COVID-19 cases surging and restrictions on gatherings returning in October, organisers are not hopeful that March events will go ahead.
"We aren't seeing it [happening] in March," organiser Femmy van Issum said. "Together with the Drenthe Safety Region and Mayor Loohuis van Hoogeveen, we have submitted a request for the last weekend of October."
According to the race website, the UCI has received requests from several organisers to move from early-season dates to later in the year in order to avoid the uncertainty that plagued the 2020 season, and said they would announce revised dates in January.
"There are many organizations of cycling events that are struggling with the virus, but also with all the extra measures. So we just have to wait and see. But if we want to organize something in October, we have to start organizing it in April. So we would like clarity as soon as possible."
Van Issum said she does not want to hold the races on a closed course like the one used for the Dutch road championships, where riders were limited to a 7.3km circuit around the VAM landfill.
"We have taken a serious look at it with the Province of Drenthe, among others, but a course that only consists of racing thirty times over the VAM-berg is not a WorldTour worthy option. I really hope that next year we can organize a normal competition for a large audience again."
The 2020 Ronde van Drenthe was cancelled one day before the race was due to go forward.
"Naturally, this caused us a lot of grief, but it also cost money," says Van Issum. "Part of all costs already incurred for 2020 have been paid to us in the form of corona support. Sponsors have also shown understanding and immediately pledged their contribution for 2021. Only together can we keep the Ronde van Drenthe going in these special times."
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