SOMERVILLE, NJ - The COVID-19 pandemic has forced cancellation of the venerable Tour of Somerville series of cycling races, which would have celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2020.

The three-day Memorial Day weekend event draws thousands of spectators who crowd the sidewalks and line the borough's streets, with hundreds of international competitors flying in from all over the world, as well as professional American cyclists and amateurs to compete in the country's longest-running cycling event.

The decision to cancel was made in consideration of the health of spectators and international competitors, and the likelihood that the virus could be spread with thousands of people in close contact.

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“This was incredibly difficult decision and was a choice of last resort. As a volunteer-driven event for more than 75 years, the Tour has entertained thousands of spectators every Memorial Day weekend since 1940, with the exception of World War II,” said Mike Malekoff, executive director of the Tour.
 

As communities deal with this very fluid health crisis on a day-to-day basis, the Tour will re-examine the situation to determine if the race will be rescheduled or postponed until 2021. Remaining under discussion is the possibility holding the citizen rides when the pandemic passes with a smaller version of the race for local racing cyclists, according to the organizers.
 
"The Tour of Somerville is among our signature events, and postponing the weekend festivities is a major decision, but at this time, it is the correct one" said Somerville Mayor Dennis Sullivan.  “There will come a time for our public events to resume but in the meantime public health and safety remains our top priority.”

 
“As the title sponsor for the Tour of Somerville, we support the decision to cancel the event,” said Unity Bank President & CEO James A. Hughes. “The community looks forward to the bike race every year and the 2020 edition was going to be particularly important with the 80th anniversary of this historic competition. However, the health and safety of the community should be the only consideration as we all cope with the coronavirus crisis.”

Thousands of spectators, and hundreds of world class professional and amateur cyclists from New Jersey, the United and international are drawn to the three-day event annually, but the pandemic demanded otherwise this year.

The featured Memorial Day event, the Kugler-Anderson 50-mile race for professional and elite cyclists is the oldest competitive bicycle race in the country, having first been run in 1940. The event has become known as "The Kentucky Derby of Cycling" and draws international Olympians and top cyclists from around the world. It was known as the predominant cycling race in America from the 1940s through the 1980s.

The race was suspended or several years during World War II, and there have been occasional rain outs over the years.

For up to date information on the future of the Tour, please check the website www.tourofsomerville.org or Facebook page.