The organisers of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race appear to be remaining hopeful that the women’s and men’s one-day races scheduled for the last weekend of January may still be able to go ahead, despite the coronavirus pandemic, but will come to a decision “in the coming weeks”.
“We are continuing to work through our plans to bring a COVID-19 safe event to the Geelong, Bellarine and Surf Coast regions in January 2021,” an event spokesperson said via email when contacted by Cyclingnews on Friday. “We are working closely with our stakeholders to ensure that a safe event can be held next year and expect to be able to make decisions regarding the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in the coming weeks.”
Meanwhile, despite rumours of a cancellation, the organisers of the Tour Down Under women’s and men’s stage races have made no further comment beyond Tuesday’s press release, in which Events South Australia executive director Hitaf Rasheed said that a decision regarding the two races – set to take place from January 14-17 and 19-24, respectively – would be announced “within the next week”.
She added that the organisation had “also been considering alternate scenarios if we are unable to deliver the Santos Tour Down Under with UCI men’s and women’s races in January, including how to present cycling in some format in South Australia in January”.
The major obstacle for both the Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race is whether Europe’s top teams will be able to – or want to – travel to Australia to compete.
Cyclingnews understands that the AIGCP teams’ association surveyed the teams on whether they would be willing to travel to Australia and accept a 14-day quarantine upon arrival, but most teams said that they did not want to travel. Riders and staff would also likely have to quarantine upon returning to their homes in Europe, creating another obstacle to teams participating.
While the UK recorded 280 more deaths due to the coronavirus on Thursday – and the USA had 1,016 deaths on Wednesday – Australia has been less severely affected, with the state of Victoria, where the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race takes place, having recorded a total of 819 deaths since the start of the year, with 20,344 cases of COVID-19.
That makes it by far the worst-affected state, and both the men’s and women’s editions of the 2021 Herald Sun Tour stage race – which also take place in Victoria, normally in early February – have already been cancelled.
Many borders between Australia’s states have been closed during the pandemic, but some restrictions in Victoria’s state capital of Melbourne have recently been eased, with pubs, cafés and restaurants permitted to reopen this weekend.
Nationwide, there have been 27, 569 positive cases of the coronavirus, with 907 deaths.
South Australia – with the Tour Down Under taking place there, in and around the state capital of Adelaide each year – has recorded 495 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the year, and four deaths.
Cyclingnews has contacted the Tour Down Under for further comment, but had not received a response at the time of publication.