Scheduled for March 23-29, Catalunya is the fourth UCI men’s WorldTour event to be fully cancelled until further notice following Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-San Remo.
As recently as Wednesday lunchtime, the race organisers had continued to be adamant that the Volta a Catalunya, which was set to celebrate its centenary edition this year, would go ahead, with plans to follow the same measures as in Paris-Nice, keeping the public at a distance at starts and finishes.
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But as Spain and its regional governments take increasingly stringent measures to slow down the coronavirus pandemic, including cancelling most of its sporting events or insisting they take place behind close doors, the Volta a Catalunya has had no option but to suspend itself.
"The race is suspended until a later date," a Volta a Catalunya press release stated on Wednesday afternoon. "We will ask the UCI for new dates later in the year, or failing that in 2021. The race has been held every year without fail since the end of the Spanish Civil War [in 1939].
"We have tried until the last moment to hold such a special edition of the race, but now the preventative measures and the health of riders, team staff and public has to take priority. The Volta will be back, and will be held in the best conditions possible," race organiser Ruben Peris said in the same release.
"We never forget that we put on this great spectacle so the public can enjoy it."
The Volta was set to have a full-scale line-up of top racing names this year, amongst them Chris Froome (Team Ineos), defending champion Miguel Angel López (Astana) and former winners Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) was also planning to make his return to racing there after a nine-month absence because of illness and injuries.
For now, the next WorldToru race in Spain is the Tour of the Basque Country from April 6-11. But whether it will actually take place remains very much to be seen.
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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