The Santos Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, traditionally the season openers for the WorldTour, have both been cancelled for 2021.
Australia currently has a 14-day quarantine in place, which would complicate the travel schedule of cyclists flying in from a variety of countries. The men’s Tour Down Under was scheduled to take place the week of Jan. 19 and the women’s event Jan 14. The Australian races would have continued with the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race the weekend of the opening event of the Women’s WorldTour on the last weekend of January and the one-day men’s race.
Too much risk
“The Santos Tour Down Under is a much-loved event on the world cycling and Australian sporting calendars and we know how important this event is to the people of South Australia,” said Hitaf Rasheed, executive director of Events South Australia in a statement. “It is for that reason we have done all we can to consider how we can deliver it, but unfortunately in the end it was the international component, with over 400 people that make up the international teams, that proved to be the most difficult to overcome.”
“We have worked with our stakeholders, SA Health and SA Police to create a successful strategy to bring the international event to South Australia,” said Rasheed, “However, the complexities and risks involved with quarantining and international border closures have ultimately proved too much to ask of some of the teams, who have endured a stressful, challenging and compressed 2020 season that will run later than normal.”
Stuart O’Grady was set to take on his first year as race director of the Santos Tour Down Under but unfortunately he will have to wait until 2022. “Of course I am disappointed,” said O’Grady, “but given the challenges, our priority needs to be the health and safety of South Australians, our communities, and the international cycling fraternity. I believe that for one year we can put delivering an international event aside, and keep our South Australian heart beating by delivering a new, re-imagined event for cyclists and for communities across the nation.”
With the cancellation of the Australian races, the season-opener of the WorldTour has now become the UAE Tour, set to take place Feb. 21-27 2021. The Women’s WorldTour will kick off in March, with the Strade Bianche.