Organisers of the Tour of the Gila have announced the cancellation of their stage race that was scheduled to be held from September 29 to October 3 in and around Silver City, New Mexico. Race director Jack Brennan said they were forced to cancel the race due to rising COVID-19 cases across the state, and that the race will return next year from April 27 to May 1, 2022.
"I am saddened and emotional about making this decision, but I know it is the right decision. The health and welfare of our participants and community is paramount. With the rise in COVID and our area being ranked at the highest transmission rate, it would not be wise to continue," Brennan said in a press release on the event website Friday.
Tour of the Gila would have been only the second UCI stage race in the US this calendar year, the other being the Joe Martin Stage Race going on this week in Arkansas.
"I have lived in Silver City, Grant County, New Mexico for 46 years. I met my wife here. We raised 2 kids here. I ran a successful business here. My wife and I are now both retired and we plan on remaining here. I am so proud to call this community my home.
"I share this because the Tour of the Gila is a community event. Our community has supported the Tour of the Gila for the past 34 years. I know for our event to be successful we need community support and community input," he said.
"With the serious rise in cases again, the decision I made about cancelling is really a community decision. In early August, when the Delta Variant started infecting parts of our country, I reached out to our medical and health care community and asked for assistance. At that time Grant County was doing well. Our positivity rate and the case per 100,000 were low and we were ranked by the state of New Mexico as low transmission status. However, things have changed in the past few weeks. Infection rates are increasing throughout New Mexico and in Grant County. Our county is now ranked at the highest transmission status."
The Tour of the Gila organisers were forced to call off their men's and women's events last spring due to the outbreak of COVID-19 that shut down the entire international calendar.
The UCI America Tour event was rescheduled for this fall from September 29 to October 3, rather than earlier this spring, because organisers felt that the extended timeframe would allow for better chances of the event taking place.
"I really thought the pandemic would have been in our rear-view mirror by now, but unfortunately not so. I am very saddened about this," Brennan said.
"The medical and health care community have been honest and transparent with me. I appreciate that. They have been instrumental in providing me with the knowledge needed to make this decision."
Brennen has committed to bringing The Tour of the Gila back next year from April 27 to May 1, 2022.
"We, as a community, are going forward. I am now focused on the 2022 Tour of the Gila. Our race dates will be April 27 – May 1, 2022. For our many participants who have registered, we are happy to move your registration over to the new dates or provide a refund of those registration fees. I will personally be contacting each of you who have registered.
"Wherever you are, please support your medical and health care professionals. Their leadership will get us all to a better place. We sincerely hope that you will appreciate our careful decision to cancel this event due to the changing situation with COVID."
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