Cycling Event Task Force Releases “Race Management Guidelines for the COVID-19 Era” Report
July 16, 2020
Colorado Springs, Colo. (July 16, 2020) –The newly-formed Cycling Event Task Force, an informal and diverse group of U.S.-based pro cycling leaders and stakeholders, today announced the publication and release of its findings and recommendations regarding the operation of elite bicycle racing events during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Providing augmented tools and guidelines for international and national-level race organizers, the detailed report builds upon documents previously published by the Union Cycliste International (UCI) and USA Cycling and encompasses required medical, civic, race management, athlete and team protocols during this unprecedented time. The report also includes suggested guidelines for fan engagement, sponsorship, marketing and communications as well as an executive summary highlighting a number of key findings. The complete report can be viewed here.
“The goal was to assemble a group of individuals with in-depth and diverse knowledgeable perspectives in various medical and event management areas as well as evaluate public and sponsor perception,” said Steve Brunner, co-founder and Chairman of the group and President of KOM Sports Marketing, who has recently been working on the inaugural UCI Pro Tour-sanctioned Maryland Cycling Classic for 2021. “Everyone checked their ego at the door and participated because of their passion for cycling. We all desired to define best practices for the return to safe and healthy bike racing for organizers, athletes, sponsors and spectators. I want to thank the group for their participation and contributions.”
“The industry is learning how best to safely and effectively adapt to the fluid impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been life-changing as we know; however, the experience has also highlighted the leadership, innovation and resiliency of the sport’s community,” said Chris Aronhalt, Task Force co-founder and President and owner of Medalist Sports, one of the leading event management companies in the sport the past 30 years. “During these challenging times, cities, counties and their respective public health agencies appreciate an extensive and proactive plan which integrates state and local guidelines, as well as best practices of the industry. Public safety must be the top priority, with strong consideration provided to budget, necessary resources, as well as general optics.”
All cycling events necessarily interact with multiple governmental jurisdictions, each of which may have differing, overlapping or contradicting guidelines with respect to handling COVID-19 issues. The Task Force emphasizes a common-sense, open and proactive approach on all levels with local governmental and health officials.
“All events should establish a formal position for a high-level medical coordinator or COVID-19 ‘Compliance Officer’ – and that person should be involved in all strategic decision-making around the event,” says Dr. William Apollo, a Pennsylvania cardiologist and another member of the Task Force. “Clear power and the ability to modify or even cancel aspects of the event should be invested in that officer and the health professionals involved in the event.”
While acknowledging some of the guidelines may be repetitive or redundant, the Task Force strongly recommends all medical guidelines be widely publicized and distributed to all participants, stakeholders and spectators via all available methods. The event plan should be consistently well-communicated and transparent to all involved – and organizers should acknowledge that plan improvements and modifications may need to be made continually.
“Now, more than ever, public transparency and regular communication about events is critical – to all participants, stakeholders, governmental jurisdictions, media and the public, especially moving into 2021,” said Lucy Diaz, CEO of RPM Events in Denver, Colorado.
Current World Tour racer Ben King of NTT Pro Cycling and a winner of two stages of Vuelta a Espana is currently preparing for the August restart of the pro calendar. As a committee member, he emphasizes the critical distinction between managing an actual bike race versus the risks involved in a major public event: “It’s one thing to quarantine a group of 150 riders and maintain reasonably safe and low-risk conditions. I think that can be done. But when you consider thousands of people coming from various locations to squeeze together and watch a race, to stay in hotels and eat in restaurants, and so on – that can be a much bigger risk, and more difficult to effectively manage. With a well-thought out plan, these events are still possible and can provide exciting racing to spectators.”
The Task Force conducted several detailed discussions and interactive forums over the course of May and June 2020 in order to create a comprehensive list of suggested guidelines. Considering the fluidity of the current situation, many of the guidelines are structured for 2021.
Rich Hincapie, an owner of an elite pro road racing team as well as three Hincapie Gran Fondos (mass participation events) added: “We have to let governmental officials, athletes, teams, sponsors and spectators know on a regular basis that we are learning and adjusting as we go along. And, most of all, that everything we do is focused on the safety of the event.”
Members of the Cycling Event Task Force include: Charles Aaron (Owner, Circuit Global Sports); Dr. William Apollo (Director, UPMC Pinnacle Sports Cardiology Center); Chris Aronhalt (President, Medalist Sports); Kathryn Bertine (Founder, Homestretch Foundation); (Task Force Chairman) Steve Brunner, (President, KOM Sports Marketing); Dave Chauner (CEO/Founder, World Cycling League); Chuck Hodge (Chief of Racing Events, USA Cycling); Lucy Diaz (CEO, RPM Events); Rich Hincapie (President, Hincapie Sportswear/ Gran Fondos); Chris Horner (retired pro cyclist and NBC Tour de France commentator); Jeff Huber, (PA, St. Anthony’s Hospital); Ben King (Team NTT pro cyclist); Kristin Labonte (President, Breaking Limits); (Task Force Secretary) Steve Maxwell (Editor, The Outer Line); Kelly Staley (Former VP, AEG Worldwide) and Mike Weiss (President, Gateway Cup, Big Shark Cyclery).
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