When Nairo Quintana won the queen stage of Paris-Nice that Saturday that they decreed the state of alarm, it was certain that the international squad would be in hibernation for a while due to the coronavirus pandemic. A period that then no one could imagine how long it would be, nor what damage it would inflict on the weak cycling structures, both teams, and organizations.
— Paris-Nice (@ParisNice) March 14, 2020
Once the initial shock was overcome, the cycling campaign kicked off, setting the resumption of activity for the end of July and the beginning of August. For the moment, everything is going according to plan. Broadly speaking, this means the Tour in September, the Giro in October and the Vuelta between October and November. In between, there’ll be classic rides, monuments, world championships in Switzerland and races whose celebration was considered strategic to save such an atypical and bad season.
Everything started in Burgos, Spain
Like the Bundesliga in European football, the Vuelta a Burgos was from the very beginning the focus of everyone’s attention as the starting point of the cycling season. Although there had been a few minor races before, Burgos set the new scene, and it was not easy to combine the needs of professional cycling, constantly evolving within the new reality imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Vuelta a Burgos established a protocol from scratch with the main objective of minimizing risks and outbreaks – words as common now as the air we breathe – as much as possible.
Several days later, we can say that Burgos passed the exam, and fulfilled the so-called new normality. There were a couple of shocks: a rider from the Israel Start-Up Nation, Chris Froome’s next team, and three Colombians from the UAE Team, all had had contact with a coronavirus-infected person. They were separated and conveniently isolated, and the competition could reach a conclusion.
A race whose winner, dressed in purple, has marked a turning point – Remco Evenepoel, 20, beat all the stars that had come together for the race. A much satisfying victory, Burgos will forever be one of the achievents of a cyclist who will most surely mark an era.
On Saturday August 1st, cycling experienced another great day. The Strade Bianche is a relatively young classic that has taken root in the hearts of fans. Its cycling from another era, along the white roads of Tuscany and ending at the heart of Siena, has taken on great dimensions and has provided great pictures. The winner of such a special race, usually held in March, was three-time cyclo-cross world champion Wout Van Aert, who this time was certainly successful in his attack.
Cycling keeps going amidst the curves of the pandemic, taking extreme precautions and watching with concern those fans who approach the roadside without a mask.
On the Route d’Occitane, the current Tour winner Egan Bernal showed he had made the necessary effort to keep his bib from August 29th in Nice, so we will see if the efforts to return professional cycling to activity have been worthwhile or not. Meanwhile, we will enjoy what we can. Along the way, there will be cycling almost every day until then.
By Ibán Vega, El cuaderno de JoanSeguidor