Posted by Editoress on 07/2/20
The FQSC announced today that racing is underway in the province. It will begin with local regional events, but is expected to expand to provincial level Quebec Cup events by next month. The first regional event was a time trial that took place last night (July 1st).
FQSC Secretary General Louis Barbeau said to us, "Right now we are only allowed to have regional events, so we still can't have provincial level events. This means that riders can't come to an event from all over the province. That [provincial level] should be coming in a few weeks time."
"Our first event was a time trial in the Quebec [City] region and we had close to 50 athletes participate. This coming Saturday we have the first mountain bike event, which will take place in Sherbrooke. It is a regional race that we have limited to 150 participants, just to be on the safe side."
Barbeau explained that road events will be restricted to time trials at this time, but mountain bike will include cross-country mass start events; with modifications to the start of races. BMX will also start up. The calendar is expected to be on the FQSC website by tomorrow, says Barbeau.
"We have a calendar that is evolving, but we probably have close to about 100 events this year, all disciplines included. The only events we can't hold for now are road events with pelotons, so road races and criteriums, basically."
"The [Quebec provincial health] rules aren't [just] for cycling, they are for all sports. If you look at basketball, volleyball, all of these sports can resume competition. With all of these sports you are always in your opponent's face, but it is limited contact, short contact. So right now, mountain bike races at the start are the same and we are ensuring that there is physical distancing at the staging and when the race starts; obviously, we need to make sure that it is wide enough so that people aren't too close to one another, and you don't have a climb [so soon] that everybody gets jammed. So, two, three, four minutes after the race starts then it spreads apart and breaks up. There is no zero risk, but this is seen as a reasonable risk and within the provincial rules to do."
"The biggest problem in all of the events, in my view, is not going to be on the field of play. It's going to be everything that surrounds that - parents, spectators, the gatherings around podiums and the parking lots when people arrive ... this is where the announcers for the event are going to have to reinforce the message that people should be physical distancing and wearing masks. We are not imposing the wearing of masks except for commissaires and others that are under FQSC responsibility."
"I'm gathering information, talking with scientists, and there is less and less evidence that riding in a peloton - whether it's for training or racing - that there is a high risk [of being infected]. The risk is apparently quite minimal that people can get infected. This is something that I will probably be submitting to the public health people. I don't expect them to approve bunch races a week from now, because they will want to see how things evolve and if it is going well before they go to that next phase. I quite confident that sometime in August we are going to be able to have some bunch races. That's more of a gut feeling, but it's based on what I have seen how things have progressed. The success of being able to come back to any sort of normal format is going to depend on how things are run. As long as sport doesn't become a vector for getting more people infected."
With regard to non-Quebec riders participating in provincial level events, Barbeau says, "Unless there are restrictions that don't allow people from other provinces to visit Quebec, absolutely they can come to races. Let's say a Quebec Cup was in Gatineau - then a Quebec athlete like Leandre Bouchard from Alma would be five hours travel, but riders from all over Ontario would be closer. Unless there is something that says people from Ontario can't travel to Quebec, I don't see any reason not to allow them to participate; they would be more than welcome. If we are able to provide a calendar that benefits athletes from other provinces, we are happy. It's good for the athletes, it's good for the athletes, it's good for everyone."
Barbeau also says that they are starting to see an increasing demand for licences, with 1500 applications coming recently.
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