The first World Cup of 2020 looks set to be the first international mountain bike race postponed due to the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus. The downhill World Cup was set to take place next week, March 19-22 in Lousã, Portugal.
Local officials in Lousã have published a statement outlining measures it is taking to combat COVID-19. The downhill World Cup is named on the municipalities list of events cancelled in an attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
While the UCI has not yet commented specifically on the status of the Lousã World Cup, cycling’s governing body did issue a general statement on coronavirus on March 4. In its statement the UCI defers to local health organizations, saying that “Any possible decision to cancel will be taken by the health authorities in the concerned regions.” Further, “The organizers and all members of the cycling family will be obliged to comply to any such decision.”
UPDATE: On March 11, the UCI confirmed the cancellation of World Cup DH#1 scheduled to take place in Lousã. “The UCI fully supports the decision taken by the Lousã local authorities and the Montanha Clube to reschedule the event based on the instructions made on 10 March by the Portuguese public health authorities,” reads the statement. Citing a potential health risk to riders, fans and others involved in the events, the UCI and organizing committee will work together to find a new date for the race.
Following the UCI’s stated position, and with the Mayor of Lousã listing the World Cup among the town’s cancelled events, it seems unlikely that the first World Cup DH will go ahead as scheduled.
There is no news yet when the UCI will attempt to reschedule the Lousã round of World Cup downhill racing.
While riders and fans are still waiting for official confirmation from the UCI or race organizers, SingletrackWorld reports racers already in Portugal are confirming the postponement.
Last week, Sea Otter Classic organizers announced the 2020 show, North America’s biggest mountain bike event, would be postponed to a later date. New dates for Sea Otter Classic have not yet been released. Sea Otter Canada is set to go ahead as scheduled.
UCI statement on the impact of coronavirus on the UCI International Calendar (March 4, 2020)
“Following a meeting held today with representatives of different members of the cycling family – teams, riders and organisers -, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) specifies the following on the subject of the next events on its calendar given the current pneumonia epidemic (Covid-19) linked to the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).
The decision has been taken not to proceed with the cancellation of any events at this stage. Any possible decision to cancel will be taken by the health authorities in the concerned regions depending on the evolution of the local situation and different risk factors identified. The organisers and all members of the cycling family will be obliged to comply to any such decision.
For the events still taking place, it has been decided that each organiser must take a certain number of measures with the aim of limiting to a maximum the risk of the coronavirus spreading further. These include increasing the distance between the public and riders, particularly in the start and finish zones; respecting a strict medical protocol, variable depending on the country, but in any case including a process for dealing with suspected cases and the provision of a detailed map of establishments capable of carrying out diagnostic tests for the coronavirus; limiting the number of teams staying in each hotel; respecting certain hygiene measures, for example avoiding the use of the same pen by riders signing in at the beginning of the race.
If the organisers are required, on decision by their authorities, to refuse the participation of certain teams or if teams find themselves unable to take part in an event for a valid reason, the UCI will need to be informed rapidly. In such a situation, it will take necessary measures, on a case-by-case basis, to ensure that no team is penalised, either financially or when their sporting results are considered, in particular when it comes to evaluating their UCI WorldTeam or UCI ProTeam status.
If the evolution of the situation were to justify other measures, the UCI, which is permanently following the situation and remains in contact with all stakeholders via an ad hoc group, will rapidly take the necessary decisions.
The UCI reiterates that the measures undertaken aim to reduce the risk of infection among riders, team staff, the public and any other person involved in cycling, in order to avoid contributing to the spread of the coronavirus worldwide.
The UCI will write to each of cycling’s different groups – teams, riders, organisers and National Federations – with details of measures taken and the procedure to follow.
The UCI would like to thank the members of the cycling family for their contribution to this fight against the spreading of the coronavirus and calls for the unity of all parties, necessary in this context.
The same principles will be applied for all events on the UCI International Calendar, and for all disciplines.”