the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Kieran Haug ’21
Image Credit: Getty Images
This summer the world was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. Most capacities of life were affected, but something many people could at least look forward to was sports. The NBA, European soccer, MLB and more were able to compete in controlled environments without much difficulty.
One sport that also competed, but is very different from other sports, is professional cycling. The season was cut short in March, though once August rolled around and the pandemic was coming under control in Europe, an opportunity arose to put these races on. This resulted in a very condensed season, with eight months of racing happening in the span of just three months. Races overlapped one another and, at one point, there were over 40 days straight of racing.
The difference between cycling and many other sports is that fans cannot be regulated. Because races go on roads and through cities where many people live, it was almost impossible to regulate outside contact for the riders. The first race of the condensed season was the famed Tour de France. To maintain a safe environment, organizers tested the riders once every six days throughout the 21-day race. If more than two members of the team, including riders, coaches, cooks, masseuse, etc., tested positive, the whole team would be forced to leave.
Fans were encouraged to wear masks, but on many climbs where the riders travel at low speeds, they took them down to their chins and cheered riders on from far less than 6 feet. Because of this, on three different teams, one member of the staff tested positive. Luckily, however, no team was removed and an exciting race ensued, in which a 21-year-old won — the youngest winner since 1908.
In subsequent races, many were not as lucky in regards to COVID-19 regulations. In the Giro d’Italia, another 21-day stage race, three teams were forced to withdraw after the first testing period. Later in the season, as COVID-19 cases in Europe spiked, the most famous one-day ‘classic’ Paris-Roubaix, in France, was forced to cancel. But the final race of the season, and the third ‘grand tour’ — Spain’s La Vuelta a España — was held and completed Nov. 8. No riders tested positive, and all made it to Madrid for the finish. All in all, cycling is very different from many other sports in the way fans can be regulated, so, given the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been quite an interesting season.