Tour Down Under cancelled for 2021

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The Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race have been cancelled for 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The events held in Adelaide, South Australia, and Geelong, Victoria, respectively, are usually staged in January over the southern hemisphere summer and mark the beginning of the WorldTour season.

Organisers confirmed the cancellation of both events in statements issued at the same time on Sunday night. The International Cycling Union (UCI) is yet to announce where and when the new men's and women's seasons will instead commence.

Richie Porte traditionally returns to Australia to compete at the Tour Down Under, which he won this year. Credit:Daniel Kalisz

"We're devastated we won't be opening the UCI WorldTour one-day racing season in January," Cadel Evans, Australia's only Tour de France winner, said. "But this decision has been made by putting the health and safety of our riders, event partners, spectators, workforce, volunteers and broader community first."

The Tour Down Under, Australia's first WorldTour race, was due to be staged from January 19-24, a week before the Cadel Evans elite one-day races.

"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," Events South Australia executive director Hitaf Rasheed said in a statement announcing the Tour Down Under cancellation.

Rasheed said organisers had worked with government, health and police officials but, "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".

Australia closed its international borders in March and some domestic state borders also remain closed because of a second wave of coronavirus infections in Victoria that sent the state back into lockdown.

On Sunday, Australia recorded no new locally transmitted coronavirus infection for the first time in five months.

Some international sports events are resuming, with Australia hosting the Tri-Nations rugby tournament involving New Zealand and Argentina and India set to tour for a cricket series starting next month.

The WorldTour season was suspended for almost five months this year due to the pandemic. It resumed on August 1 and will finish with the Vuelta a Espana, currently underway, on November 8.

After the Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, the next men's WorldTour event on the regular calendar is February's UAE Tour.

The UAE Tour was cancelled with two stages remaining and race participants put into lockdown this year after COVID-19 cases were confirmed there.

AP -with staff writers

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