DENVER, CO (August 3, 2020) — Despite cancelling its own event due to increased concerns around a spike in new COVID-19 cases nationwide, the Colorado Classic today published its COVID Mitigation Plan in the hope it will offer assistance to other event organizers, teams and riders as the sport continues to grapple with the pandemic.
“We spent months recognizing and researching the key elements for a successful COVID mitigation plan applicable to a professional cycling event. It was a very collaborative process that included medical professionals, bio labs, state, county and city health officials and cycling industry professionals; we studied the protocols that were being put into place in our surrounding communities and what was being proposed in other professional sports. We compiled all of this knowledge and through a cycling lens we created our COVID mitigation document,” said Lucy Diaz, CEO of RPM Events Group LLC.
The resulting COVID-19 Mitigation Plan was developed in concert with current Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) guidelines and integrates policy and protocol as established by the cycling governing bodies of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and USA Cycling.
The plan takes into account the Colorado Classic’s first and crucial step toward a safe racing environment, which was the creation of a “Made for TV Streaming” model. This format eliminated crowd gathering opportunities and amplified their innovative live streaming model instead.
With that in place, the plan addresses the operation and logistics of running a professional cycling event during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. And even goes beyond previously published guidelines in encompassing rider and event staff safety protocols including medical testing and virus contact tracing as well as fan engagement, broadcasting, media and press management and more.
For example, the race organizers were planning to implement an innovative saliva-based testing method in partnership with Summit Biolabs. Summit Biolabs, which allows for a 24-hour turn around for results with a higher level of accuracy. The participating athletes would have been required to report into a race sponsored facility four days prior to the start of the race to be tested; all negative test results would result in a clearance to race. A second test was to be issued after the second day of competition to monitor levels of potential contraction during the competition.
In accordance with the UCI’s protocols, pre and post-event screenings were also a key element to the mitigation plan with dedicated resources for contact tracing and continued post-event communication with teams, riders and staff for 14 days.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created an entirely new perspective for producers of major sporting events. With safety being paramount, we are all working to navigate through the new logistical challenges. While we felt very confident in our plan, we were also realistic that we didn’t have all the solutions. One of the main concerns of the pro cyclists is the close contact within the peloton. We were creatively working on guidelines that maintained appropriate social distance measures from start to finish, but short of hosting individual time trials for each stage you can’t avoid the peloton formation. Our team will continue to explore solutions and alternate event models as we look towards the 2021 event,” said Diaz
“We thought our race would be the first US professional cycling event to return post-COVID outbreak. That is no longer the case, but there will be a “first” pro race; whether that's this autumn or next year, we want to share our work to help keep the cycling community as safe as possible.”
Focused on their continued mission to drive awareness around women’s cycling, the Colorado Classic team remains engaged with their stakeholders and community. Some recent highlights include:
- #WeRide for Women virtual Zwift ride on July 29 raising almost $40,000 so far for the #WeRide Development fund going to the teams that would have raced in the 2020 event
- Breakaway Dialogue Series a collection of curated conversation co-hosted by corporate partners such as VF Corporation, Gates Corporation and FirstBank, bringing together business leaders and athletes who have created their own paths for change in both sports and business.
Event organizers are currently working on plans for 2021 and will have an update in mid to late September on what to expect for next year’s event.