After a number of locally-acquired COVID-19 cases within Brisbane in the lead-up to the Tour de Brisbane - the centrepiece event of the Brisbane Cycling Festival in terms of participation - the event has been postponed to an unspecified date.
The race follows a number of other Australian cycling events in recent times, with the Melbourne to Warrnambool and the Masters and Junior track national championships both rescheduled after late postponements due to the COVID situation.
The Melbourne to Warrnambool has been moved to May 1, while the Masters Championships will now be contested from 26-29 June and the Junior Championships from 1-4 July.
L'Etape Australia by Le Tour de France was set to be held March 19-20, postponed from 27-28 November 2020 due to COVID-19, then, just days ahead of the rescheduled date the event was cancelled with severe weather conditions forecast.
Tour de Brisbane race director Mike Crawley sent an email to competitors informing them of the postponement and outlining the reasons for the change in date. Below is an edited excerpt, you can .
"Today is a sobering day as I, unfortunately, have to advise you that the 2021 Tour de Brisbane will not be going ahead as scheduled on the weekend of April 9-11."
"The present and evolving COVID situation is serious and we cannot prioritise the risks associated with our mass gatherings as less important than riding our bikes.
"The key outcomes from the Safety Committee which influenced their recommendation and ultimately my decision were:
"As a result of the recent clusters and tracing issues in Queensland and Northern New South Wales the community at large is nervous, with many large events including the ‘Bluesfest’ Festival cancelled. To conduct our event with 6,500+ participants and an expected 2,500+ supporters was considered too high risk for the community.
"The extended restrictions, particularly those related to physical distancing and masks, are a logistical challenge to implement, requiring 22,000 square metres at the start for riders alone. Additionally, we would struggle to achieve spacing on your ride particularly at recovery stations which would not adhere to the UCI Gran Fondo standard. We could overcome this challenge, but the Community Ride and shorter distance rides would need to be cancelled. I strongly feel this to be an unfair scenario.
"Interstate riders and teams potentially face a mandatory two (2) weeks in quarantine on their return home and many New South Wales riders are also unable to cross the border into Queensland due to COVID outbreaks in the Northern Rivers.
"And finally, if by some unfortunate means we had a COVID case amongst our attendees next weekend, the consequences would be significant and given the present environment I simply cannot accept this risk."
BRISBANE CYCLING FESTIVAL POSTPONEMENT Public health and safety is the number one priority for the Brisbane Cycling... Posted by Brisbane Cycling Festival on Wednesday, 31 March 2021
Further updates will be provided by race organisers as a new date is confirmed, with starters for the initial date to be transferred automatically to the new date, though organisers have said that they will "process any further credits and withdrawals should you be unable to attend".