The longest-running stage race in the United States, the Redlands Bicycle Classic, will be interrupted for a second year in a row as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the race to be postponed until 2022, organisers announced on Monday. The race was due to be the first race of the 2021 USA Cycling Pro Road Series.
The race began in 1985 after the 1984 Olympic Games were held in Los Angeles and the US team earned a record number of medals in cycling. It has been a foundation of the early domestic racing scene for 35 years, with local residents providing host housing for most of the riders. Among the Redlands Classic winners are Davis Phinney, Chris Horner, Amber Neben, and Lyne Bessette. The last edition was won by Cory Lockwood and Neben in 2019.
Most of the events on the Pro Road Series have shifted their races to later in the year as a mass-vaccination campaign is underway to help stop the virus. The earliest on the calendar is now the May 22 Wilmington Grand Prix in Delaware, with the early-season Joe Martin Stage Race moved to August and Tour of the Gila to late September.
The race was postponed in 2020 as the pandemic began to spread across North America and its deadly march continued apace, with more than half a million victims in the United States and almost 30 million confirmed cases. Although a major surge in cases following the December holiday season has abated, there are still restrictions on public gatherings and other measures in place to help stop the spread of the virus.
“The Redlands Bicycle Classic is a community event, comprised of an all-volunteer committee. Without their countless hours of work, the race simply would not happen,” Executive Director Marc Shaw said in a press release.
“Our ability to host this world-class experience is only possible because of local sponsorships. The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Beaver Medical Group, Stater Bros. Charities, PossAbilities and Toyota of Redlands have all remained steadfast partners during these difficult times. It is important for us to recognize their contributions to other causes, often with a greater need than a community event such as ours.”
“Finally, our host cities have all faced significant financial constraints as a result of the pandemic and without the support of their public safety, public works and community services departments, we would face great challenges in creating a safe race environment.”
“The Redlands Bicycle Classic Organizing Committee has decided to focus our efforts on creating an amazing 2022 Redlands Bicycle Classic, with all of the elements people have come to love. Our professional racers will enjoy the Inland Empire as they stay with host families and visit school kids throughout the region. Our fans and spectators will gather along the course and at the start/finish line to cheer on riders in the public races and professional racers alike. There will be fun rides, vendors, demonstrations and the energy that makes Redlands such a special event.
We look forward to sharing all of this with you over the course of five days, beginning April 20, 2022, as the Redlands Bicycle Classic returns to its long-standing home as one of the premier early-season races on the USA Cycling Professional Road Tour calendar,” Shaw concluded.