This year’s Tour of Britain has been called off with organisers admitting it was “impractical” to stage the race amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The race, which counts Sir Bradley Wiggins, Julian Alaphilippe and Mathieu Van Der Poel as previous winners, was due to start in Penzance on September 6 and travel the length of the country to Aberdeen across eight days, but the route will instead be used 12 months later for the 2021 edition.
“The decision has been taken in light of the ongoing situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes continuing with the planning and organisation of the 2020 race impractical,” a statement said.
“Across the UK there are significant doubts around the potential to stage large-scale public events and gatherings such as the Tour of Britain as early as September and while any form of social distancing remains in place and there isn’t a vaccine available, people’s health and safety must come first.”
Earlier this month, Tour of Britain race director Mick Bennett expressed confidence his event could go ahead but told the PA news agency it would be necessary for organisers “to get boots on the ground” in the coming weeks in order to complete preparations.
While it remained possible a way could have been found for the event to go ahead ‘behind closed doors’, there was little appetite to stage a race without fans present – either from organisers or local authorities who bid for stages in expectation of boosting the local economy.
The statement added: “Holding the Tour of Britain behind closed doors or with extensive social distancing rules would not only be immensely impractical, but would rob our venues and spectators of these opportunities and go against everything that cycling, as a free-to-spectate and accessible event, stands for.”
The decision follows talks with British Cycling, local authorities and other stakeholders, and comes ahead of an expected announcement from world governing body the UCI fleshing out the WorldTour calendar published last week with races at the ProSeries level.
The full Tour of Britain route had not yet been announced, though it had been revealed it would visit Devon, Warrington and Cumbria on its journey north.
The blanks will now be filled in later in the year, with the 2021 edition provisionally scheduled for September 5-12, subject to UCI approval.
Tour of Britain organisers Sweetspot had already called off the Women’s Tour, originally scheduled for June, as well as the Tour Series in May.
With the Tour de Yorkshire also unlikely to take place this year, RideLondon-Surrey Classic is the only major race still scheduled to take place in Britain this summer, slated for August 16.