After the cancellations of the Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, the start of the European season has now been hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with the Challenge Mallorca series postponed on Saturday.
The four-race series was set to open the 2021 campaign for a number of WorldTour teams from January 28-31, as well as celebrating its 30th edition.
However, amid alarming case numbers, the island of Mallorca will enter the highest level of restrictions in Spain on Tuesday, with a ban on sporting events with more than 50 people.
Those restrictions will be in place until at least January 26, but, despite presenting safety protocols to the health authorities, the organisers announced on Saturday that they had no option but to postpone.
“We profoundly regret having to take this decision but the current situation obliges us to enact our responsibility to prioritise the health of everyone involved in the race,” said Unisport’s director general, Manuel Hernández.
The organisers have already contacted the UCI, via the Professional Cycling Council, to seek new dates. They have asked for May 13-16, which may affect the start list given it clashes with the Giro d’Italia.
“From today we will put all our efforts into holding the race in May and being able to give it the celebration it deserves on its 30th anniversary,” said Hernández.
The news comes as a further blow to the 2021 season, despite the 2020 campaign being successfully rescheduled following the first wave of the pandemic. After the cancellation of the Australian summer, and amid doubts over whether international teams would be allowed to race the Vuelta a San Juan, Mallorca was set to be the first outing for most teams.
The one-day Clásica Comunitat Valenciana 1969 is still set to take place on January 24, but there will now be even more interest in the French season openers, with the GP La Marseillaise on January 31 followed by the Etoile de Bessèges from February 3-7. The Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana stage race takes place at the same time.
As well as the races in Australia, the Tour Colombia, Tour de Yorkshire, and Tour of Antalya have all been cancelled entirely.