If Monday were a “rest day” in a grand tour, the next one won’t come until the end of October.
The revised WorldTour calendar goes into overdrive for the next several weeks, with almost no letting up until the end of the Vuelta a España on November 8.
In fact, Monday — September 28 — is the last day on the men’s and women’s calendars without a major WorldTour race until the Vuelta’s first rest day on October 26. Add another one on November 2, and that’s it. Every other day between Tuesday, September 29 through the end of the Vuelta includes at least one WorldTour race.
So much for rest for the weary.
Of course, this unprecedented racing calendar comes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The rise of COVID-19 derailed the typical racing season back in March, and forced everyone to reshuffle the deck.
So far, things have gone better than expected.
The peloton endured the big push of getting the Tour de France to Paris, the Giro Rosa made it through Italy, and the world championships sparkled this weekend in Imola. All the key stakeholders in the peloton, from the riders and teams to race organizers and the UCI, deserve credit for pulling it off.
Now comes part two of what’s a wild and sometimes wildly entertaining revised racing calendar.
Following Monday’s “rest day,” the WorldTour clicks back into action Tuesday with the Binckbank Tour, followed by men’s and women’s editions of Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, and the same for Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday.
Oh, and did we mention that the Giro d’Italia starts Saturday?
Races have been pulled out of their traditional slot, squeezed into a tighter window, and refitted to make due in what everyone hopes is a one-off.
The Giro in October? Sure, why not? The spring classics in the fall? Here they come.
The Giro d’Italia, which starts Saturday and runs through October 25, overlaps with the Vuelta, set for October 20 to November 8. In between, there are northern classics as well as a series of one-day races on the women’s calendar.
Fans, media, riders, and sport directors will have whiplash before this is over.
It’s not just that races will be overlapping. In some cases, there are multiple races on one day.
Take October 25, for example. It’s already being hailed as cycling’s “Super Sunday.”
The day includes the final stage of the Giro d’Italia, with a time trial in Milano. There’s also the summit finale at the Col du Tourmalet at the Vuelta. And to make it even sweeter, there’s the first-ever women’s Paris-Roubaix in the morning, followed by the men’s Paris-Roubaix in the afternoon.
Time to dust off that VHS player, and hit the record button.
Counting only WorldTour race days, there are 51 for men and 12 for women during the next six weeks. And that doesn’t even count the secondary races. In fact, Monday wasn’t a rest day at all. It was the second day of the 82nd edition of the Volta a Portugal.
Of course, all that racing might get derailed one more time. COVID-19 cases are rising across Europe, and there’s already snow on the Tourmalet.
If the scintillating action from the past few weeks is any indication of what lies in store, however, you don’t want to miss a thing.