Gent-Wevelgem, E3, Drenthe, and Catalunya among latest races to be called off

by CyclingTips


Numerous races have been called off and others have been cast into doubt as governments and organizing bodies in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain announced blanket stoppages to sporting events on Thursday amid coronavirus concerns.

Among the cancelled races are the men’s and women’s Gent-Wevelgem, the E3 BinckBank Classic, the Volta a Catalunya, and the Ronde van Drenthe. Meanwhile, Paris-Nice forged ahead on Friday, but organizers announced that the race will stop after Saturday’s seventh stage, one day early.

Further details on cancellations are expected. The pro peloton has now seen its first two identified positives for the virus, with Dmitry Strakhov (Gazprom-Rusvelo) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates) recently confirming positive tests in the United Arab Emirates.

Belgium

A Belgian government decree has led to the cancellation of all sports events through April 3, meaning that all of the following races won’t be held as planned:

– Nokere Koerse (men and women)
– Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne (men and women)
– The E3 BinckBank Classic (men)
– Gent-Wevelgem (men and women)
– Dwars door Vlaanderen (men and women)

Belgium’s biggest race, the Tour of Flanders, is scheduled for April 5, just two days after the government ban lifts. At this stage the race hasn’t been cancelled, but the associated sportif has:

As Flanders Classics CEO Tomas Van Den Spiegel wrote on Twitter, everything is up in the air at this stage, both with regard to the Tour of Flanders and potential new dates for events that have been cancelled:

The Netherlands

The Dutch government issued new measures to contain the COVID-19 virus that cancel all events of over 100 people until March 31.

The Drentse 8 van Westerveld (Women, UCI 1.1), de Bevrijdingsronde van Drenthe (Men, 1.1) and the Bevrijdingsronde van Drenthe (Women’s WorldTour) won’t take place this weekend, as confirmed by race organizers.

Many teams, including Mitchelton-Scott and Movistar, had already cancelled their participations. Italian riders and teams were unable to travel to Drenthe and American riders like Emily Newson of Tibco-SVB had opted to travel home following the announcement of travel restrictions from Europe to the United States.

The cancellation of the Ronde van Drenthe is another blow for the Women’s WorldTour amid the coronavirus crisis. So far only the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race has taken place; Strade Bianche, Trofeo Binda, Ronde van Drenthe, Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem have all been cancelled, while the Tour of Chongming Island was already postponed in the earlier stages of the virus outbreak in China.

The race cancellation in the Netherlands also halts the Olympia’s Tour (Men, UCI2.2), one of the renowned races for development teams, which was supposed to start on March 18.

The new decree also includes museums, theaters, concerts and all events where more than 100 people gather. Schools will remain open because the closing of the schools and parents missing work due to the care for their children will seriously influence fields like healthcare, police and fire services, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands explained.

Spain

On Thursday the Spanish cycling federation called off all races during the next two weekends. That period does not quite cover the March 23 planned start date of the Volta a Catalunya, the next stage race on the men’s WorldTour calendar, but shortly thereafter organizers announced that the Volta a Catalunya would be not be held as initially planned.

The race has been postponed “following the preventive measures against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) ordered by the Catalan Government.”

This year would have been the 100th edition of the race, which has not been halted since the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939.

Organizers said that they will seek a rescheduling date with the UCI.

France

France has yet to see any broader decisions at a national level to halt racing. As such, Paris-Nice continues on even as numerous races in neighboring countries were called off on Thursday. Organizers announced on Friday, however, that Paris-Nice w0uld be stopped one day early after Saturday’s stage 7.

José Been contributed to this report.

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