The Tour de Bretagne has become the latest race to be cancelled due to the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
The week-long French race was not scheduled to get underway until April 25, but the organisers announced on Thursday that this year’s edition of the 2.2 category race will not take place.
France has recorded over 2,200 cases of Covid-19 and restrictions have been imposed on public gatherings. Although Paris-Nice has proceeded this week, spectators have been distanced from both the start and finish areas.
"Since 1967, the Tour de Bretagne has been synonymous with a festive week around cycling, along towns and villages of Bretagne, that everyone is delighted to welcome and participate. Without this collective fervour, the Tour de Bretagne has no reason to exist," read a statement from the race organisers.
"In view of the current health situation, we know that the conditions are not fulfilled for the event to take place normally. It is therefore with great disappointment, but in liability, that the Organizing Committee of the Tour de Bretagne has decided to cancel the 54th edition of the event which was to take place from April 25th to May 1st 2020."
The cancellation of an event that was some six weeks away raises further questions about the viability of the racing calendar in France and across Europe over the coming months. On Wednesday, Christian Prudhomme insisted that Paris-Nice would be completed as normal despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Flanders Classics and the organisation of other Belgian races such as the E3 BinckBank Classic are still hoping to hold their events but are mindful of the prospect of cancellation.
All racing in Italy has been suspended in light of the severe restrictions on public gatherings and sporting activity in the country. RCS Sport has already had to postpone Milan-San Remo, Tirreno-Adriatico, Strade Bianche and the Giro di Sicilia, and UCI president David Lappartient has acknowledged that the Giro d’Italia is now at risk.
"I don't even want to think about such an eventuality," Giro race director Mauro Vegni said according to Sporza this week. "The damage would be truly immense."
Christophe Fossani and the organising committee of the Tour de Bretagne have outlined the difficulties inherent in holding bike races amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Their statement pointed out that medical and policing resources are likely to be focused almost exclusively on curbing the spread of Covid-19 in the coming weeks.
"We have no guarantees, in view of the evolution of the situation, to be able to benefit from the assistance of the security forces and the medical services necessary for the smooth running of the event in complete safety for the riders, the public and the whole caravan," read the statement.
"Under these conditions, waiting until the last moment to make this decision or undergo such a decision would have been irresponsible."
The 54th edition of the Tour de Bretagne will instead be held in 2021, on the same dates – April 25-May 1 – and on the same route, starting in Le Cambout and finishing in Dinan.
Lorrenzo Manzin won last year’s race ahead of Fabian Lienhard and Nils Eekhoff.