The Vuelta a Andalucía looks set to be postponed by three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In news first reported by Spanish website Ciclo21 and then confirmed to Cyclingnews, the 67th edition of the five-day stage race, originally set to run from February 17-21, will be postponed, most likely until May 24-28.
"Effectively we are postponing the race because of the current COVID-19 situation, and because of what we can see is coming up in the next two to three weeks," race organiser Joaquin Cuevas told Cyclingnews.
"All of that means that the start on the 17th would have been uncertain. For this reason, we’ve reached an across-the-board agreement to delay the Vuelta a Andalucía to May 24-28. The request has been made to the UCI and we are waiting for the confirmation of the new dates."
The Vuelta a Andalucía, or Ruta del Sol, was part of the new UCI ProSeries in 2020, when Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) claimed overall victory.
The three-month pushback comes hard on the heels of a decision to postpone Portugal’s Volta ao Algarve, which takes place on identical dates. It also follows the postponement of Spain’s traditional season-opener, the four-day Challenge Mallorca because of the pandemic, as well as numerous other races further afield.
The Tour Down Under, Herald Sun Tour, Tour Colombia, Vuelta a San Juan, Tour of Antalya, Saudi Tour and Tour of Oman have all been cancelled.
Spain is currently in the grip of a third wave of COVID-19 infections, with 44,357 new registered cases on Thursday, the highest of the pandemic to date and, although not official, a third de facto lockdown is in place across much of the country.
After the postponement of the Volta ao Algarve and the cancellation of the Tour of Oman, the postponement of the Ruta del Sol leaves many teams with a serious dearth of racing opportunities in February.
The decision to postpone The Vuelta a Andalucía represents an abrupt change of direction for the race. As recently as Thursday, sources in the race organisation were unofficially adamant the race would go ahead as usual. And on the race website, the countdown ticker for its February 17 start remains in place.
The Spanish cycling calendar is due to start with the 1.2 Clàssica Comunitat Valenciana 1969 this Sunday, with the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, the first 2.HC race of the season, getting the ball rolling for the WorldTour teams in Spain on February 3.
However, with Valencia currently suffering some of the highest rates of new cases in Spain, it remains to be seen if the region’s premier stage race will actually go ahead.
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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