Nobody knows what 2021 will bring us, not even CycloWorld. Many cyclists are not thinking about cycling events just yet. Still, we get a lot of questions from readers asking us what we think. What will the 2021 season look like? We think that 2021 will be a year with many faces. We list some observations and predictions. Of course, completely without any guarantees.
Would this be possible again in 2021? Picture: Alpen Challenge Lenzerheide.
It's already clear that in 2021 there will be far fewer tours organized than usual. For example, Cycling Classics France already decided last year to cancel a number of major gran fondos. However, we expect that there will still be enough rides. So finding an event will not be the problem. Getting there will be. Many countries keep their borders more or less closed using color codes and corresponding quarantine requirements.
The organizers tell us that they are really doing everything they can to keep going. They are in constant contact with the local authorities. They lobby wherever they can. They devise protocols and think in terms of solutions. Their efforts are not lacking.
From the first lockdown, we learned that even the countries within Western Europe fail to have a common corona policy. This time, we will probably see very large differences between countries again. Countries like the Netherlands and Germany follow a strict line; the chance that events will continue here seems smaller than in, say, Southern Europe. Also, countries that rely heavily on tourism, such as Greece and Croatia, will open faster. Based on last year, France and Switzerland are the countries where events could occur.
It's a current affair: certain activities are only possible with a recent negative test or even a vaccination passport. We expect that this will also be the case for cycling events. Mass rapid testing is also a possibility.
Compared to the first lockdown, there is now much more knowledge about outdoor contamination. This is possible, but it's rather rare. This is particularly good news for cycling events. As far as we know, no infections can be traced back to the events that went on in 2020 either.
In 2020, organizers have been able to experiment solidly with all kinds of corona protocols. Think about participant limits, staggered starts, wearing face masks and limited access when picking up start numbers. These are the measures we expect to see at the vast majority of events in 2021 as well. Things will also change in the food and drink stops. Think of handing over the of food and drinks instead of grabbing it.
The mental health of many people is in a sorry state. With sport, this can be improved. Moreover, sport is also a perfect way to stay physically healthy. We see in Europe that this awareness is growing and that is positive for organizers. We think that sporting events will be possible sooner than, for example, festivals.
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The winter season has completely fallen apart this year. In France, the lifts remain closed for the entire season. In Austria, areas are open only to Austrians, and in Switzerland, strict quarantine rules apply. In Italy, the opening of the lifts has been postponed twice. Through our contacts with the tourist regions we hear that this is very heavy and partly unexpected. For a long time, people still had hope that they could save the season. A summer without bicycle tourism? Many areas will not survive that.
After a winter with empty ski slopes, the areas must perform in the summer (photo Quenten Janssen).
We have to be realistic. The early spring can be crossed out anyway. Some big names have already been cancelled or moved. For example, the Jean Nelissen Classic in Luxembourg has already been canceled for 2021, and the Tour of Flanders for tourists ahave been moved to later this year. And many will follow. By the second part of the spring we are a little more positive, but the chances also seem high that most will be canceled. A harsh, but realistic conclusion.
If it can't be done the way it should be done, then it should be done the way it can be done. We see that organizers are looking for alternatives. For example, NL Tour Rides spreads out tours over several days, always in small groups. There are also tours where you get a GPX and a goodie bag after you pay and ride it all by yourself. Some organizers, such as Haute Route, opt for indoor group rides on Zwift or Rouvy. Other organizers such as Golazo in Belgium wait as long as possible before publishing their calendar. We expect to see more innovative concepts in 2021.
All in all, CycloWorld is moderately positive. The social pressure will be enormous to allow travel again and sporting events to continue. That will be in the second quarter at the earliest, and always with adjustments. Of course, everything depends on whether the situation improves or worsens. A year without vacations is hardly bearable for people, and for the regions it could be disastrous. Perhaps not everyone is aware of it, but even in 2020 many events continued. For example, the people from CycloWorld still simply rode three foreign GF's. In any case, we are hopeful and expect that from May/June events can be organized again.