Lagares turmoil – 11th hour ruling restricts HEWC Rnd1
A last-minute General Health Directorate order placed on the 2021 Extreme XL Lagares organisers has turned the opening round of the Hard Enduro World Championship upside down by severely restricting the race to one small area.
A public health decision taken by the Portuguese Direção Geral Saúde (DGS or General Health Directorate) has dealt a heavy blow to riders, fans and race organisers at the Extreme Lagares, due to start this morning on the outskirts of Porto.
A statement from the event organisers dropped literally in the eleventh hour (on Thursday European time – see it below) says they have been slapped with a restricting order despite what amounts to years of planning and no shortage compliance with Covid rules or prior knowledge about this race and how it runs.
It is hard not to feel for the event organisers, Extreme Clube Lagares headed by Paulo Moreira (who says “honestly, I feel a huge sadness”) having put their life and soul into the event which they have been planning since 2019.
Lagares is the opening round and effectively showpiece event for the new FIM Hard Enduro World Championship. Given Portugal is the home country of the FIM president Jorge Viegas, it is also hard not to wonder where the FIM are at a time like this?
The DGS ruling means the whole three-day event will now have to be severely contained within the Serra do Pilar (Maneuver Park) area where the EnduroCross races were due to be held today, Friday, and Saturday morning.
You can view the onboard preview of the park in our separate story: Extreme XL Lagares EnduroCross track onboard preview
It’s naturally also a major blow to the many international riders who’ve trained, prepped and travelled for those infamous rocky riverbeds and gulleys at this eagerly awaited first round of the new FIM Hard Enduro World Championship.
Here’s the statement from the organisers in full:
The Extreme Clube de Lagares hereby informs all participants and teams of the 2021 Borilli Extreme XL Lagares - Opening Event of the Hard Enduro World Championship and Hard Enduro National Trophy - that the event that will take place this weekend will unfortunately be held in a different format than previously presented.
Due to the late impositions by the DGS (General Health Direction), the event will have to take place in its entirety - 3 days, inside the Quartel da Serra do Pilar (Parque de Manobras) facilities.
The entire organization, FMT and entities joined efforts along the last few days, however the late report from DGS, forces this worldwide event to be held “behind closed doors”.
At this time we are joining forces to minimize the loss and above all to have the competition and spectacle prevail with all its participants.
We count on your understanding and support so we can preserve the good name of this competition.
Extreme Clube Lagares
The update and statement from the HEWC promoters:
Due to a regional Covid hot spot, and the subsequent ruling by Portugal’s General Health Directorate on Thursday, May 6 that requires all international sporting events to now be held behind closed doors, Extreme XL Lagares has been forced to make significant changes to the planned event format.
Despite the overall number of covid infections in Portugal being very low, this hot spot is in an area through which a large section of the planned Extreme XL Lagares course passes. As such, the decision affects both the prologue planned for Saturday and the Main Race, both of which have been cancelled.
However, the Extreme XL Lagares organiser, the series promoter WESS Promotion GmbH, and the FIM have together designed an alternative event schedule, ensuring all 350 competitors, including the 56 entries into the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship, will be able to race in Portugal as planned, within a Covid-safe bubble.
All amateur competitors will be allowed to roll their entry over to the 2022 running of Extreme XL Lagares and compete this year for free.
This is possible due to the fact the event’s paddock and planned Endurocross track are located within a closed military area with independent administration and based on the fact that all riders and assistance personal have been tested for Covid when entering the facility.
The event’s new format will start, as originally planned, with Endurocross qualifying for amateurs today, Friday, May 7, and for pro class riders tomorrow, Saturday, May 8. On Sunday, May 9, the event organisers will create a Hard Enduro loop within the military compound and around the paddock area, using sections of the Endurocross track, which will then be used for Sunday’s main race. Sunday will see three finals for the 20 top qualified pro Riders. The rider with the best combined results will be the winner of round one of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship.
WESS Promotion GmbH acknowledges that the alternative event schedule is significantly different to that originally planned by the event organisers but is fully supportive of the new schedule.