The IOC have made the decision to cancel the 2020 Olympic Games, Tour de France next? – Top Story. The corona virus is shaping most of the news as the Tour, Giro and Vuelta are all in question. We hear what the riders and officials think. Belgian teams ask for unemployment benefit, Eight still in UAE quarantine, no racing in GB, 4,221 virtual Sanremo riders and part 2 of The Wolfpack Insider: Tour Colombia video. Stay safe everyone.
TOP STORY: Olympic Games postponed to 2021
The IOC announced on Tuesday that the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo have been postponed by one year to 2021. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC President Thomas Bach came to an agreement to move the sporting event.
The Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, were initially on the calendar from July 24 through August 9, but there was growing pressure from the sports world to move the event due to the ever-spreading corona virus. National sports associations were concerned about the safety of athletes and the global community. Also Alejandro Blanco – the chairman of the Spanish Olympic Committee – also spoke of an unbalanced situation for certain countries. “Our athletes are currently unable to train.” Furthermore, the Dutch committee already called for the event to be postponed and several countries indicated that they would not send athletes to the Olympic Games. This weekend, after urgent deliberation, the IOC announced that it seriously takes into account the postponement scenario, today the postponement of the Games proved to be unavoidable.
“Under the current circumstances and based on information from World Health Organization (WHO), the IOC President and Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games should be postponed to a date beyond 2020, but no later than the summer of 2021, to protect everyone.”
Earlier, other major sporting events – such as the European Football Championship and the Giro d’Italia – had already been postponed due to the outbreak of the corona virus in Europe. The Tour de France (June 27-July 19) is still on the agenda and race organiser ASO would do everything to continue the French Tour on the planned dates.
No Games in 2020:
Greg Van Avermaet: “There will be more motivated than ever next year”
Now that the Olympic Games have been postponed to 2021, Greg Van Avermaet will be Olympic road champion for a year longer. The CCC rider strongly agrees with the IOC’s decision. “It is now impossible to safely organise the Games.”
Van Avermaet took the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro four years ago and wanted to defend his title in Tokyo, Japan, next summer, but his Olympic plans are going on ice for the time being. “It is of course disappointing that the Games cannot continue, but I fully support the decision.”
“We currently need to look at the safety and health of people. It is currently not possible to host the Games with thousands of people from all over the world. There was simply no fair playing field. We are entering an uncertain period, so no other decision could be made.”
Van Avermaet hopes to compete for a second Olympic title in 2021, but will he still be strong enough to compete at 36? “Postponing the Games is not ideal, but I will be even more motivated next year. It is really an honour to be an Olympic champion and I can now wear the gold bands for one more year. And I hope to enjoy it even longer.”
Greg Van Avermaet – Olympic champion till 2021:
Mathieu van der Poel – Tokyo or Grand Tour?
No Olympics this year for Mathieu van der Poel who had made the Olympic mountain bike race an absolute main goal. “It is an understandable decision, but nevertheless I am left with a bad feeling,” said the rider Alpecin-Fenix rider.
Van der Poel had figured it out well with his team. After the World Champs in Dübendorf, he ended his cyclocross season and then started his Classic season. After a short rest period, he would then work his way towards Tokyo on the mountain bike via a few World Cup races and the World Championships. The coronavirus has decided otherwise.
“It is a very unfortunate but understandable decision,” said Van der Poel. “Global health comes first. On the other hand, I am left with a bad feeling. Four years ago we drew up a plan for these Games and that now goes down the drain. It is not easy mentally if you have been working on this for four years, but that is the case for everyone who has worked towards a goal in this period in the long term.”
Meanwhile, Van der Poel remains busy, but without a goal for the time being. “At the moment, there is little knowledge of when we are ready for races again. I will stay busy for the time being, but of course I cannot make a real plan. I hope that the MTB World championships in Albstadt, 28 June, will continue as planned.”
Regarding the 2021 Olympic Games, Van der Poel finds it difficult to look ahead. “First of all wait and see when they will let the games continue. I myself hope for the same period, so that I can finish the classic campaign first, as was planned now. The only drawback is that I might have to choose between the Olympics and a Grand Tour. But it is certain that I will continue mountain biking for the time being. We’ll see the rest later.”
Van der Poel:
Remco Evenepoel: “Hammer to my head”
Remco Evenepoel had aligned his season with the Giro d’Italia and the Tokyo Olympics, but both sporting events have been postponed due to the corona virus. A big damper for the top talent of Deceuninck – Quick-Step. “This is a hammer to my head,” he told VTM.
The 20-year-old Evenepoel won the Vuelta a San Juan and the Volta ao Algarve this year, but the Belgian’s sights were mainly focused on the Olympic Games. However, now the IOC and the Japanese government have made the decision the Games will be postponed until 2021. “It was a bit of a shock”, was the first reaction of Evenepoel.
“I was home alone and I cursed well. And yes, I had to shed a tear. We were doing very well, but unfortunately this is not going to happen. That makes sense, of course, people’s health comes first. But this is one of the biggest hammers I’ve got on my face.”
The youngster now focuses on the national championships in late June. The Tour de France is not an option, says Evenepoel. “I can’t even do that, it’s not physically feasible. I will not make my Grand Tour debut in the Tour. That has been discussed with the team for a while and I’ll stick to it.” The Belgian is now focusing on the Belgian champs, although the question is whether the corona virus will throw a spanner in the works again. “That will be a huge target if the championships continue. Although that will be the case for the entire peloton. And as long as it has not been canceled, I will stick to it.”
Evenepoel in Algarve:
Campenaerts Welcomes Decision to Postpone Tokyo 2020
NTT Pro Cycling’s time trial specialist, Victor Campenaerts, has welcomed the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee to postpone the Olympic Games.
Campenaerts, 28, was working towards earning a spot on Team Belgium, with the final selection due to take place over the coming months.
On Tuesday, a joint statement from the IOC and the organisers, saw the Games now postponed “beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t think that it’s a surprise for anybody that they’ve postponed the Tokyo Olympic Games. I think it’s a good decision, the only one that the organisers could really take. There were rumours about the Olympics taking place in November or December but I think that would be really too strange to have a summer Olympics in the winter,” said Campenaerts.
“I think this is the best decision if you consider the bigger picture, which for now is greater than just the sporting world, and it’s good that they make that call right now. It’s important for those athletes who put so much into their planning and preparation for the showpiece. For me personally, as a cyclist, there’s plenty of opportunity to shine so as it is already been a very strange season, and it will be a really strange season going forward, it’s no big deal. But for my girlfriend (swimmer Fanny Lecluyse) this is a really strange time. She has already been selected so will she now be selected for next year’s Olympics? Will she have to qualify again? She was planning to retire after these Olympic Games and as we know swimming is not necessarily one that financially as lucrative as some others, so for her it’s not such good news.”
Campenaerts also recently featured in the latest episode of NTT Pro Cycling’s ‘UnClipped’ podcast. In it, he talks about his personal background and how he came into the sport, what an Olympic medal would mean to him and also how he manages to deal with disappointment that as a professional could manifest in some form of “depression”.
You can follow the link for full details on how to listen to that, here: https://bit.ly/3dtIMG4
Egan Bernal In favour of Olympic Postponement
Egan Bernal thinks it’s better to postpone the Olympics by several months or even until next year. The reigning Tour winner said in a Facebook Live session, which was co-initiated by the Colombian Ministry of Sport.
“Given the global coronavirus situation, I don’t think the Olympics should be held on the scheduled dates. I personally am in favour of a multiple month postponement, and organise them next year. All we can do now is stay home to tackle the coronavirus. After all, this threat far exceeds the Tour de France and the Olympic Games,” said the Team Ineos’ Colombian.
Bernal has been back in his home country for a few days after a stay in Europe. Once at home, he had himself tested for the coronavirus, but the result was negative. The Tour winner announced on his social media that he remains in isolation for the time being in order to support his country. “I would like to call on my countrymen not to go out on the street if I don’t have to, but to stay at home as much as possible.”
Bernal has eight race days in his legs. After the national time trial and road championships, he rode the Tour Colombia, where he finished fourth in the general classification. His main goal for this season would normally be the Tour de France, where he wants to compete for a second victory in a row. The Olympic Games in Tokyo were also on its original schedule.
Bernal: Hold the Olympics:
Giro d’Italia 2020 Wants to Start on National Holiday
RCS Sport, the organisers of the Giro d’Italia still hopes to run La Corsa Rosa in 2020. According to Het Nieuwsblad, RCS has already dropped the intended new start date of May 29, but is now hoping for a Grande Partenza on June 2.
That day is a national holiday in Italy, because on June 2, 1946, the monarchy was changed for the republic. RCS Sport sees June 2 as a symbolic date for a new start in Italy affected by the corona virus. The organisation hopes for approval from the Italian federation, which has already indicated that a Giro in June is very unlikely. It was previously announced that there will be no start in Hungary, that has been postponed until 2021.
Carapaz in 2019 – Will there be a 2020 winner?
Tour de France Wants to Continue on Planned Date
The ASO wants to continue the Tour de France in the summer from June 27 to July 19. According to Le Parisien, the organisation has drawn up a scenario in which the Tour is only about the sport, without other public events. That way, the Tour can continue even during the corona crisis.
For example, the advertising caravan and the Village Départ could be deleted. The Tour de France may then resemble the most recent edition of Paris-Nice. That stage race, when the coronavirus had already caused several drastic measures in Europe, continued for seven days. However, the final stage in Nice was canceled by ASO and the public was barred from the start and finish locations.
No postponement or cancellation of the Tour de France is considered. Several teams have heard this from the ASO. “But it is still too early to make that decision. It is still far away,” said Emmanuel Hubert, Arkéa-Samsic team manager.
Roxana Maracineanu, the French Minister of Sport, recently indicated that she was in contact with ASO about the Tour de France. “It is of the utmost importance that the Tour de France and the Olympic Games can be held,” she told France Inter.
Former Tour winner Bernard Hinault previously spoke out against continuing the Tour de France if the problems surrounding the corona virus have not yet been resolved. “The Tour de France is a great party, but life is more important. People are now at risk of dying, cycling is really not important now,” he said. “We can’t afford to let the Tour go ahead if the situation isn’t safe yet.”
Tour, or not?
Former UCI president Cookson Suggests Two-Week Grand Tours
According to Brian Cookson, shortening the three grand Tours to two weeks can lead to the Giro, Tour and Vuelta being able to be ridden this year. The former president of the UCI suggested via Twitter.
“ASO is apparently saying at the moment that the Tour could take place on the scheduled dates, but without starting villages, publicity caravan, etc. I will be very surprised when that happens, given the situation in France at the moment,” said Cookson. But he makes the suggestion that: “Postponing the Olympics would give more room in the calendar for a shortened Tour de France, perhaps in late July or August. A two-week Tour would then leave room for a two-week Giro in September, a similar two-week Vuelta in October.” In addition, Cookson also suggests that the monuments could take place on weekends and other spring classics during the week.
Cookson, however, doesn’t lose sight of reality. “It all depends on a major improvement in the health situation in France, Italy and Spain. Which is not yet the case. If not, the entire season could be lost.”
Ex UCI President Cookson:
Have One Big Tour
Italian Matteo Trentin, who, like many others, had great ambitions in the Spring Classics, is now considering how to save the endangered cycling season. Greg Van Avermaet’s teammate at CCC shared his latest idea on social media this Tuesday: organise the three Grand Tours, the Tour de France, the Giro and the Vuelta, in a single event.
“Why not organise only one GT this year? Start in Rome, passing through Madrid, finish in Paris. All the best on the start and a great way to reunite all the people with a bike race after this horrible time! #3GTn1”.
Javier Guillén: “Trentin’s idea to make one big Tour is not realistic”
Vuelta race director, Javier Guillén, sees no point in the plan of Matteo Trentin, who pleaded on social media for one big Tour through Italy, Spain and France this year. According to Guillén, the organisation takes a lot of time, so the idea is now unfeasible.
According to Vuelta president Guillén, those ideas stem from the necessity of the situation we live in, he told Ciclo21. “Everything is possible in the world of ideas. Then there is reality. The first thing to say is that three-week tours, like one-week races or Classics, cannot be improvised. It is very difficult to match the canceled races with the races that continue on their original dates.”
Guillén also not keen on Cookson’s idea to shorten the three Grand Tours to two weeks? “When that happens, we have a different kind of race and a different kind of cycling. As for the idea of having a big European Tour with a week in each country, I tell you that this is an idea that we would need a lot of time for. It is impossible to implement this solution now.”
The start of the Vuelta a España is planned for August 14, in Utrecht. Guillén and his team are taking into account different scenarios now that each country has taken measures regarding the corona virus. “It’s all in our heads, because that’s our duty. However, we will have to think about the right response when a particular problem arises.” For the time being, Guillén and his team are sticking to the plans as they presented them earlier. “What’s the point of working on new stages now if we don’t know which could not be held? What’s the point of thinking about new data if we don’t know what the situation will be like on August 14? What’s the point of thinking about changing from one country to another if we don’t know what decisions are going to be made?”
The wildcards were also discussed. Guillén has already made a decision, but is holding his cards close to his chest. “The fact that we don’t announce the names of the teams is because we don’t think it’s appropriate. When we talk about so many cancellations, what we’re going to do with the calendar… As long as we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, I don’t think it’s important to talk about the wildcard for the Vuelta.”
Will the Vuelta 2020 go ahead?
Laurens De Plus Hopes the Tour can Continue
If the Tour de France continues this summer, Laurens De Plus expects that he and his teammates will be in good condition at the start. The Jumbo-Visma climber told Het Nieuwsblad. “If we can still go to altitude before the Tour, I will be going well,” said De Plus.
Jumbo-Visma hopes to prepare its riders for La Grande Boucle with training. “The Tour is the only race that our team and my trainer Marc Lamberts still take into account,” says De Plus. “I hope the Tour can continue, but doubts are growing. Suppose the coronavirus would spread a bit longer in Colombia than in Europe, then it is hard to tell Egan Bernal not to participate.”
Unlike colleagues such as Oliver Naesen, Thomas De Gendt and Jasper De Buyst, long rides of more than 250 kilometres are not included for him. De Plus and his colleagues ride a maximum of two to three hours a day. “More is not allowed, so as not to damage our resistance,” he said. “Despite the short duration, there is enough intervals to make the training as high-quality as possible.”
Jumbo-Visma planned to go to altitude in the Sierra Nevada in May. Whether that goes through remains to be seen. “That training camp has not been canceled for the time being, but it does not look very good,” said the Plus. “As soon as the situation improves, the team will send us away to a safe place, where we can train uphill towards the Tour.”
De Plus is confident that he will be fit for the Tour in time. “Other riders may need competition hardness, but climbers and classification riders can prepare perfectly with just training,” he explains. “If we can still go to altitude before the Tour, I will be fine.”
Nevertheless, the corona crisis creates an uncertain situation, also from a competition point of view. “If you have ridden a few good races in the run-up to the Tour, that will give you mental peace. You know how you stand against the opponents. Now we will be in the dark beforehand.”
Laurens De Plus looking ahead to the Tour:
Thibaut Pinot in the Prime of his Life, In a Lost Year
Thibaut Pinot is in the prime of his sporting life, but the Frenchman will not be able to shine as a cyclist in the coming months because of the corona virus. “I am concerned about the Tour de France, although cycling is completely absurd at the moment,” he told France Télévison.
Pinot, 29, hoped to please his countrymen this year by becoming the first French Tour winner since 1985, when Bernard Hinault won his fifth and final Tour de France. “The upcoming Tour’s course is really in my body and I feel that I am performing at the top of my skills.”
“A year without a Grand Tour is a difficult year,” said Pinot, who is realistic enough to realise that the 107th edition of the Tour may be postponed now that all of Europe is under the spell of the corona virus. “I am concerned if the Tour is canceled, because that means the situation has deteriorated.”
Race organiser ASO would do everything to continue the French round on the planned dates (June 27-July 19), but Pinot realises that there are much more important things in life. “That’s why I’m not complaining, we are in an unreal situation right now. Cycling is really nothing at the moment.”
Pinot decided to take a short rest period after Paris-Nice, but the climber will soon have to train again to maintain his basic condition. A problem in France due to the lockdown, long training runs are not permitted, so Pinot is dependent on the exercise bike. While Laurens De Vreese recently caused a sensation by riding 368 kilometres on the rollers, Pinot is not a huge fan. “I ride the exercise bike for an hour and a half at most. I don’t train very well indoors, especially when the weather is nice outside. In addition, I believe that you should not sit on the exercise bike for too long, which is not good.”
Circus-Wanty Gobert Team Applies for Unemployment Benefits
In Belgium, Circus-Wanty Gobert has applied for benefits for some members of staff. The Belgian professional team has appealed to the system of economic unemployment, whereby unemployment benefits can be claimed as temporarily unemployed. The team reported to Sporza that it concerns eleven staff members who are permanently employed.
Circus-Wanty Gobert took the measure now that the team will not compete in the coming months. For the time being, the provision will be used until 3 April. “But because we will not be able to race for much longer, that will be extended.”
Many mechanics, soigneurs and DS work on an independent basis with day contracts based on the races. They fall outside the regulation “Now that there is no racing, that also has consequences for them,” said the team.
The riders have not yet been asked to make a financial concession. “There is no question of that for the time being. They are still training and preparing for the events. If this situation lasts five months, it may be different. But that is not yet the case.”
Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles has also made use of the scheme. “Unfortunately, this cannot be avoided in this situation,” team manager Christophe Brandt told Het Laaste Nieuws. “You should compare it to a company that suddenly doesn’t sell anything (anymore) and has no more income.” Alpecin-Fenix, Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise and the two World Tour teams Deceuninck – Quick-Step and Lotto Soudal indicate that they have to wait a little longer.
Unemployment benefits for employees:
Eight people still quarantined in the Emirates after UAE Tour
Eight people from the UAE Tour’s peloton and caravan are still quarantined in the United Arab Emirates, L’Equipe reports. These include Fernando Gaviria, Maximiliano Richeze and Dmitriy Strakhov, who are (or have been) infected with the coronavirus.
In addition to UAE Emirates riders Gaviria and Richeze, two other UAE Emirates staff members are quarantined in Abu Dhabi. Gazprom-RusVelo told WielerFlits earlier this week that two riders, including Strakhov, and two members of staff are still in a hospital in the Gulf state.
It has been almost a month (February 27-28) that the coronavirus alarm went off in the UAE Tour. After the fifth stage, the stage race was canceled and all teams and followers were tested. A large part of the race were able to go home, but a few teams had to remain in quarantine as a precaution. Groupama-FDJ and Cofidis were able to leave after several negative tests.
There were positive cases amongst the UAE Team Emirates and Gazprom-RusVelo teams. Those infected have been in hospital for almost a month. The teammates and colleagues who have been tested negative several times were allowed to leave.
Gaviria spoke to PEZ earlier this year:
British Cycling Cancel All Events Until July 1st
The British Cycling Federation has canceled all activities on the calendar related to cycling until June 30th. This is part of the measures to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus. Earlier, British Cycling decided to cancel everything until the end of April, but now till July.
Two more months have been added, on the advice of the British government and other authorities. “We feel this is the most responsible (and only) choice we can make right now,” said British Cycling in the statement on their website. The measure applies to all events on the British calendar. British Cycling also indicates that it is looking into the options to catch up with canceled races at a later time this year, if that possibility still occurs in 2020.
In addition, the association adds what is also advised in other countries: cycle alone, do not take any risks, cycle on roads you know. “This is a time for quiet recreation rides, not to challenge yourself,” said British Cycling. Due to these measures, the Tour de Yorkshire (men and women) and The Women’s Tour have already been postponed in Great Britain. The Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic is also canceled in April.
No Tour de Yorkshire:
No Canadian Squad to Olympic Games due to Coronavirus
Canada is not sending national teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer due to the corona virus. The North American country’s Olympic and Paralympic Committees call for the Tokyo Games to be postponed by one year.
Several national Olympic committees and sports federations have already called for postponement (and/or cancellation) of the Games in Tokyo, and calls from Canada are also being made to postpone the event. With the support of the athletic committees, national sports organisations and the government, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and the Paralympic Committee (CPC) have decided not to send teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer due to the corona virus.
Both committees urge the international Olympic and Paralympic committees and the World Health Organization WHO to postpone the Games by one year. “While we recognise the incidental complexities of procrastination, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the global community,” they wrote in a press release.
During the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro four years ago, Canada finished twentieth in the medal with four gold, three silver and fifteen bronze medals. Two medals in cycling; one on the track, bronze in the team pursuit by Allison Beveridge, Laura Brown, Jasmin Glaesser, Kirsti Lay and Georgia Simmerling and Catharine Pendrel took mountain bike bronze.
No Canadians at the Olympics in 2020:
#Ridevirtual, Great Numbers for the Milano-Sanremo Virtual Experience!
4,221 people have virtually cycled the last 57km of the Spring Classic thanks to Garmin Edge technology. Vincenzo Nibali among cycling’s many big names to join the ride.
The Milano-Sanremo Virtual Experience organised by RCS Sport together with Garmin Edge has seen 4,221 connected riders who have come together to virtually cycle the finale of the Spring Classic from Alassio to the finish in via Roma, taking on the Tre Capi, Cipressa and the Poggio.
There were also many pros who joined the virtual peloton, such as Vincenzo Nibali (winner of the 2018 Milano-Sanremo, Il Lombardia (2017 and 2014) and of all three Grand Tours – including the 2016 and 2013 editions of the Corsa Rosa – Alberto Bettiol (Ronde van Vlaanderen 2019) previous winner of the Milano-Sanremo Maurizio Fondriest (1993), together with the Coach of the Italian National Cycling Team Davide Cassani, Ivan Basso (Giro d’Italia winner in 2010 and 2006), the 2008 World Champion Alessandro Ballan and the Italian former motorcycle road racer Marco “Macio” Melandri.
Vincenzo Nibali said: “Milano-Sanremo is a race that has a special place in my heart and one of my most beautiful victories. Today I had the opportunity to ride it in a new and very fun way. A nice initiative to pedal on the race route virtually while staying at home. I was able to cycle, albeit virtually, with my fans. And I want to ask them to be patient in this difficult moment, keep on staying home and ride indoors – we’ll see them again on the roads at races soon!”
RCS Sport will reward all those who participated in the Milano-Sanremo Virtual Experience with a discount of €10 for registration to the Gran Fondo Il Lombardia 2020.
This unique opportunity has been created thanks to Garmin Edge technology that has given the opportunity to many fans to experience one of the great Classic Monuments, while they are staying at home.
Vincenzo Nibali virtually cycled the finale of Milano-Sanremo:
The Wolfpack Insider: Tour Colombia – Part 2
25-Mar-2020: During February’s Tour Colombia, Deceuninck – Quick-Step allowed cameras unprecedented access to their riders – Julian Alaphilippe, Alvaro Hodeg, Mikkel Honoré, Bob Jungels, Jannik Steimle, and Bert Van Lerberghe – and amazing staff, to bring you The Wolfpack Insider: Tour Colombia.
Part 2 of this documentary picks up where last week’s episode left off and shows you the final three days of the race and the team’s pursuit for a stage victory.
The PEZ INSTAGRAM Take a look at our Instagram page for a live feed and giveaways straight from your phone: https://www.instagram.com/pezcyclingnews
The PEZ NEWSWIRE!
Don’t forget to check the “NEWSWIRE” section, you can find it on the homepage, just above the EuroTrash section. The bits of news that missed the EuroTrash deadline are in there, plus any news as-it-happens will be added there too.