Elite cycling is setting out on the road to recovery but it's a bumpy route.
As Tasmania's highest profile riders return to competition after an enforced five-month break, their state's spot on the sport's global schedule has been knocked back a year.
Thirty-five-year-old teammates Richie Porte and Will Clarke returned to racing in southern France but the legacy of COVID-19 was difficult to miss as they lined up for the pre-race announcements wearing face masks.
The regular off-season training partners were in the Trek-Segafredo team contesting La Route d'Occitanie, a four-stage race which marks the beginning of Porte's preparation for what will be his 10th Tour de France.
On a day when his joint team leader Vincenzo Nibali crashed at Stade Bianche in Italy, Porte stayed out of trouble to finish 60th in the same time as the 187-kilometre stage winner in Cazouls-lès-Béziers near the Mediterranean coast.
The North Melbourne press release announcing Hobart fixtures under the headline "Tassie games secured" was accurate in every detail apart from the fact that they weren't.— Rob Shaw (@TheShawThing) July 27, 2020
Reflections of another bizarre week of AFL in Tasmania, or lack of it.https://t.co/HaqvmGWKOu
It was his first race since Paris-Nice was aborted in March as coronavirus hit Europe. Clarke, who finished 112th, 10 minutes behind, the lead group, has not raced since the UAE Tour in February.
Porte is listed to ride two more races in France before Le Tour begins on August 29.
Meanwhile, Tasmania's return to the global cycling spotlight has been postponed.
Having successfully hosted two rounds of mountain biking's Enduro World Series, the World Trail network of Blue Derby was due to stage a third in 2021.
However, organisers this week announced that the Oceania rounds in Derby and New Zealand would be set back to become the opening legs of the 2022 series.
Derby will have the honour of hosting the series opener on April 2-3 followed by Nelson a week later.
South American races slated to take place in Manizales, Colombia, and Farellones, Chile, in November were also rescheduled to open the 2021 season.
Organisers said the changes were necessary in light of ongoing COVID-19 precautions which seek to restrict rider and spectator attendance and minimise international travel.
EWS managing director Chris Ball said it had been an "incredibly tough" year with no championship.