The Bay Crits were going to be a bigger part than normal of the Australian summer of cycling, with the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and Herald Sun Tour races for 2021 both cancelled. The series of criteriums was set to slot in between the Australian road nationals and the revamped Tour Down Under, known as the Santos Festival of Cycling, with the Melbourne to Warrnambool to wrap up the national-level racing.
Cycling Central talked to the Bay Crits race director John Trevorrow about the reasons behind the cancellation of the 2021 edition of the event.
“Really disappointing as I thought it was going to be a wonderful summer of cycling,” said Trevorrow. “With all the dramas we’ve had with COVID and the pandemic… Tour Down Under is a different format this year, I think Stuey (O’Grady men’s race director) has done a really good job over there.
“I thought it would be a great to have the summer continue with the Bay Crits, nationals and the Warrnambool, so we at least had something.”
The hard barrier for the race was the commitment of funding from Visit Victoria, with Trevorrow explaining that with no certainty provided from the government, they were unable to continue with the planning of the event.
“The government couldn’t give us an answer until early in January and the event was in January, and that’s just too late,” said Trevorrow. “I don’t blame them, with the whole COVID thing you can imagine what it’s like in the Victorian Events section. It’s up in the air with tennis and everything.
The decision to call off the 2021 race wasn’t an easy one for the experienced race director who’d tried to wait until the eleventh hour to make the final call.
“I waited until the last possible day and I couldn’t get an answer on the funding,” said Trevorrow. Jerseys, trophies, hotel bookings – they were more than just a hotel, also a sponsor of the event – that was the deadline day. I think only a week earlier I was pretty confident that we’d be on, but that was how it turned out.
“Without the decision from the government we just had to work on a bigger and better one for 2022.”
With all the fundamentals in place for the event to be run, there is at least solace in the outlook that it appears that the event is on strong footing for a return in 2022, with riders and sponsors committed to the 2021 edition.
“The heartwarming thing for me – it’s my baby the Bay Crits, started it in 1989 – was that the cream of cycling has come through the Bay Crits,” said Trevorrow. “Cadel, Robbie McEwen, Stuey O’Grady, Caleb, all those guys. The texts and emails I got from the guys, so disappointed that they wouldn’t be able to ride.
“The national team were riding, Sam (Welsford) was going to defend his title, BikeExchange were riding – men and women. It’s really disappointing, it would have been a lovely event.
“Our sponsors were on board, Lexus and Mitchelton the main ones, and the City of Geelong was ready. We cut it back to two days as we needed to make a decision back when COVID was still a big issue in Victoria. In the end it was just too hard.
For next year, the plan is to go back to the dates and format that have served the race well in the past, capitalising on the position of being the first event of the year.
“I believe in 2022 we’ll go the full three days and be back better than ever,” said Trevorrow. “Who knows what will happen in the world, what the new normal will be, but I reckon we’ll be back to the beginning of January, being before Nationals and Down Under. I think that’s how it will go but I’ll talk to AusCycling and the powers that be over the next couple of months and we’ll work out the plan.”