The UCI has announced the WorldTour and Women’s WorldTour calendar for 2022, however, dates haven’t yet been set for the Australian events – the Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race – as cycling’s governing body said discussions between organisers and authorities were still in progress.
The COVID-19 pandemic may not have hit Australia as hard as many other places when it comes to case numbers but strict entry and quarantine rules introduced as a result of the health crisis have had a significant impact on its ability to host international sporting events. The Tour Down Under men’s WorldTour and women’s 2.Pro races were cancelled this year, as were both the WorldTour and Women’s WorldTour events at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
However, despite not having set a firm date, the UCI said the events were part of the schedule for 2022.
“For the UCI WorldTour, although the two events opening the season in Australia – the Santos Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race – are registered on the calendar for 2022, their dates have not yet been finalised,” said the UCI in its statement.
“Discussions between the organisers and local authorities are in progress to ensure the best possible welcome for the teams in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The events will take place from the middle or the end of January. The situation is the same for the women’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, registered on the UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar in 2022.”
The Tour Down Under in South Australia usually starts around mid-January, followed by the the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Victoria in late January or early February.
There is currently no clear time-frame for an easing of the quarantine requirements and the lifting of Australia’s closed border, however assumptions in the federal budget, released last month, indicate that may not be until the middle of next year. That means workable quarantine requirements, with allowances for training, may have to be factored into the planning.
After the cancellation of the men’s WorldTour race and women’s 2.Pro event the Tour Down Under was this year replaced with four-stage men and women’s National Road Series level races. The current planning for 2022, however, revolves around a return to international competition.
The director of the WorldTour race, Stuart O’Grady, said this week that stages for the 2022 event had been locked in, but while the Tour Down Under organisation was continuing to focus on working to deliver the WorldTour event, there were some factors it didn’t have sway over.
“Things aren’t totally in our control, we’re going to launch the stages as soon as we can,” said O’Grady in a post on the Tour Down Under site. “But so many factors rely on the government border controls and SA Health.”
“I’m really hopeful and really confident that by January 2022 the world overall will be in a better place.”