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Amstel Gold Race canceled amid tougher virus restrictions

54th Amstel Gold Race 2019

BERG, NETHERLANDS - APRIL 21: Gulpenerberg / Landscape / Peloton / Fans / Public / during the 54th Amstel Gold Race 2019 a 265,7km race from Maastricht to Berg en Terblijt / #agr #amstelgoldrace / on April 21, 2019 in Berg, Netherlands. (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- The only Dutch cycling classic, the Amstel Gold Race, has been canceled due to the measures aimed at reining in the rapid spread of the coronavirus, organizers said Wednesday.

The Dutch government this week banned supporters at all sports events amid soaring rates of infections across the country.

The men’s and women’s Amstel Gold Races were to have been staged Oct. 10 after being postponed from the spring racing season because of the pandemic.

Organizers already had planned to drastically change the event, limiting riders to racing around a 16.9-kilometer circuit in the hilly southern province of Limburg instead of around a longer route that passed through 10 different municipalities.

Despite the changes, local mayors and security officials came to the conclusion that they could not guarantee that no public would attend the popular race, race director Leo van Vliet said in a statement.

“It is extremely unpleasant for the organization, which, together with the municipalities and the Safety Region, have done everything to ensure that the Amstel Gold Race proceeds safely,” said Jan Schrijen, mayor of the municipality of Valkenburg aan de Geul.

Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel won last year’s Amstel Gold Race.

Late Tuesday night, the Dutch stages of the BinckBank Tour were canceled because of the tougher coronavirus restrictions on crowds. The race, which was planned with stages in both the Netherlands and Belgium, continued on a hastily re-arranged schedule only in Belgium.

The event’s time trial had been planned for Wednesday in the southern Dutch city of Vlissingen.