Volta a Portugal postponed due to coronavirus restrictions

2019 Volta a Portugal winner João Rodrigues.
2019 Volta a Portugal winner João Rodrigues (Image credit: Getty Images)

The 2020 Volta a Portugal has been postponed after host towns expressed reservations about welcoming race amid the coronavirus pandemic, Portuguese public broadcaster RTP reported on Thursday.

The Volta a Portugal was due to take place from July 29-August 8. No new date has been fixed for the UCI 2.1 event, though RTP quoted an unnamed source from the race organisation who said that it could yet take place in 2020 “if conditions are met in the meantime and if all those involved agree on a new date.”

Race organiser Podium Events has yet to make an official statement confirming the postponement of the event.

Portugal enacted an early lockdown and carried out large-scale testing to control the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Lockdown measures began to be lifted in May, but restrictions on public gatherings remain in place, which appears to have contributed to the reticence of host towns.

Both Viseu and Viana do Castelo announced this week that they would not host stages of the Volta a Portugal as planned. “I told the organization of the Volta that I didn't feel comfortable to receive it in the usual way. We suggested a postponement," said Viseu mayor Almeida Henrique, while the local government in Viana do Castelo said that hosting the Volta a Portugal would “give contradictory signals” to society.

Last week, the Portuguese Directorate General of Health had given the green light for the 2020 Volta a Portugal to go ahead after reviewing plans regarding social distancing, quarantine and coronavirus testing presented by the Portuguese Cycling Federation (FPC).

Portuguese football’s Primeira Liga recently resumed action behind closed doors, while Lisbon is due to host the final phase of the Champions League in August.

Earlier this week, however, the Portuguese government restored a curfew and other restrictions in the greater Lisbon area after a recent rise in infections in the capital.

First organised in 1927, the Volta a Portugal has taken place on 81 occasions. It was last absent from the calendar in 1975 as Portugal transitioned to democracy following the previous year's Carnation Revolution. The 2019 edition of the race was won by João Rodrigues (W52–FC Porto).

The Volta a Portugal is the first road event to be postponed since the UCI published the latest draft of its revised 2020 calendar earlier this month. The international cycling season was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic in March but is due to start again next month, while WorldTour competition is slated to resume with Strade Bianche on August 1.

The Tour de France (August 29-September 20), Giro d’Italia (October 3-25) and Vuelta a España (October 18-November 8) are among the events rescheduled for the Autumn, though the postponement of the Volta a Portugal underlines the provisional nature of the rearranged calendar.

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