In early December, 2019, the first cases of a mysterious new respiratory illness emerged in Hubei province in China and despite the Chinese government's best efforts, the disease now known as Covid-19 caused by a new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has spread to every country on the planet.
In four months the virus has moved from an unknown animal source to the level of a global pandemic, declared by the World Health Organisation on March 11, 2020.
Cyclingnews followed the course of the outbreaks as they affected the sport of cycling.
- A message to Cyclingnews readers
- What is the Covid-19 coronavirus and how might it continue to affect professional cycling?
January 27, 2020 – first race postponed
The Tour of Hainan was postponed due to coronavirus as the number of global cases approached 3,000 with 80 deaths and 37 cases confirmed outside of China, and 11 countries affected.
February 11, 2020 – Olympic fears
The Olympic organisers dismiss fears coronavirus could derail Tokyo 2020 Games despite the number of cases worldwide rising to 43,000 with over 1,000 deaths and 395 cases confirmed outside of China. The virus had spread to 24 different countries.
February 21, 2020 – More Chinese races postponed
The UCI postpones the Tour of Chongming Island, a Women's WorldTour event, which was due to take place from May 7-9, the Tour of Zhoushan Island - scheduled for May 12-14 - and the Tour of Taiyuan - scheduled for May 31 as the virus tally hit 76,000 cases, 1200 outside China, 2200 deaths and 26 countries affected.
The first three cases were confirmed in Italy and soon worries about RCS Sport's spring races began to form.
February 26, 2020 – Coronavirus infections take off in Italy
Over the course of a week, the number of cases in Italy exploded to more than 300, and RCS Sport director Mauro Vegni expressed concern over the races. Strade Bianche and Trofeo Alfredo Binda were also under threat as Italian officials scrambled to clamp down the region.
- Coronavirus puts Women's WorldTour Trofeo Alfredo Binda and Strade Bianche at risk of cancellation
- Van Aert parachuted into Omloop Het Nieuwsblad amid coronavirus fears
February 27, 2020 – UAE Tour stopped as coronavirus hits entourage
The final UAE Tour stages were called off after two coronavirus cases were confirmed in the race entourage. The initial reports pointed to Italy as the source of the virus at the race, with Italian staff likely infected before coming to the race. The race hotels in Abu Dhabi were locked down, with riders, staff and journalists confined first to the hotel then to their rooms.
Chris Froome and the rest of the riders, staff and journalists underwent several rounds of testing over the next few days.
- Final UAE Tour stages called off after two coronavirus cases confirmed
- Chris Froome among riders being tested for coronavirus at cancelled UAE Tour
- Italian races under further threat of cancellation following confirmed coronavirus cases at UAE Tour
- Morkov in isolation after travelling from UAE Tour to Berlin Track World Championships
- Abu Dhabi health department says 167 tests come back negative for Coronavirus
- Riders and team staff react to reported UAE Tour coronavirus outbreak
- Flanders Classics keen to avoid 'hysteria' over coronavirus
March 1, 2020 – Most UAE Tour teams allowed to leave as coronavirus isolated to one floor of hotel
Some teams were allowed to leave but UAE Team Emirates, Cofidis, Groupama-FDJ and Gazprom-Rusvelo were kept quarantined in the hotel as six people from the Russian and UAE teams tested positive for the coronavirus.
The lack of information and isolation was a source of frustration.
By this point the virus had infected over 87,000 worldwide, with 7169 confirmed cases outside China, almost 3,000 deaths and 58 counties impacted.
- Haas: I'm calm but UAE coronavirus quarantine is leading to pandemonium
- Groupama-FDJ's Gaudu and Démare remain in coronavirus lockdown at Abu Dhabi hotel
- Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo to go ahead despite coronavirus concerns
- Israel Start-Up Nation riders to choose if they want to race with regards to coronavirus – News Shorts
- Authorities report six new Covid-19 positives among UAE Tour entourage
- Cofidis: 'Please don't forget us' as coronavirus quarantine continues
- Italian races on brink of cancellation as government and teams express concern about coronavirus
- Paris-Nice set to take place despite coronavirus concerns
- EF Pro Cycling request their withdrawal from Italian spring races over coronavirus concerns
March 4, 2020 – teams withdraw from racing
Teams withdraw en masse from racing to prevent both the spread of the virus and risk of riders being quarantined in hotels.
Meanwhile, the riders cooped up in the hotel in Abu Dhabi received gaming consoles, bikes and stationary trainers to help pass the time.
- Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ to remain in UAE coronavirus quarantine until March 14
- Coronavirus: Italian races face cancellation after government suspends sporting events until April 3
- Jumbo-Visma pull out of Strade Bianche and GP Larciano over coronavirus concerns
- Coronavirus: Mitchelton-Scott withdraw from all men's and women's racing until March 22
- Sea Otter Classic potentially next on coronavirus' path of trade show destruction
- RCS Sport admit Italian races could be cancelled due to risks of coronavirus
- Coronavirus: Team doctors request cancellation of Paris-Nice and Italian races
- Four riders reported to be positive for coronavirus at UAE Tour
- Coronavirus: Meeting in Siena to decide fate of Strade Bianche
- Coronavirus: Astana withdraw from Strade Bianche, Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico
- Team Ineos withdraw from racing until Volta a Catalunya
- Vanmarcke on coronavirus: It's a bad situation
March 5, 2020 – Strade Bianche cancelled
RCS Sport announced the cancellation of Strade Bianche as the number of infections in Italy topped 3,000 with 107 deaths.
March 6, 2020 – Milan-San Remo cancelled for first time since World War II
Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Sicily, GP Larciano, Trofeo Alfredo Binda and Settimana Coppi e Bartali are postponed or cancelled as the entirety of Lombardy region is under government-declared isolation.
- Philippe Gilbert on loss of Milan-San Remo: public health comes first
- Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo postponed due to coronavirus
- Coronavirus: UAE Team Emirates pull out of Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo
March 7, 2020 – Paris-Nice goes on as planned
Paris-Nice gets underway without eight WorldTour teams despite the number of coronavirus cases in France rising to 613 with nine deaths.
Worldwide the number of cases exceeded 100,000 with 93 countries affected and 3,400 dead.
March 9, 2020 – Paris-Nice 'behind closed doors' as Gazprom-Rusvelo riders transported to hospital with Covid-19
A government ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people in France forced Paris-Nice organisers to run the race 'behind closed doors' - limiting access for fans to riders at the start and finish of all stages.
France reported the second highest number of coronavirus infections in Europe behind Italy with 1,116 confirmed cases and 19 deaths but the race continued.
Dmitry Strakhov (Gazprom-Rusvelo) is the first professional cyclist to be publicly confirmed as positive for the coronavirus. He and two teammates were transferred from the Abu Dhabi hotel to a hospital. They were said to be in a good condition.
March 11, 2020 – Paris-Nice continues
Race director Christian Prudhomme insisted Paris-Nice would be completed despite coronavirus epidemic despite speculation that the town of Nice would prevent the race from coming there. In Northern France, the Tour de Normandie was cancelled.
The Volta a Catalunya organisers planned to employ the same distancing strategy as ASO used for Paris-Nice to ensure the WorldTour race could go on as planned.
Meanwhile in Belgium, there was increased concern about the Tour of Flanders as the number of cases rose to 239 in the country.
- Coronavirus: The Mid South gravel race will go ahead as scheduled
- Pinot: coronavirus situation has been blown out of proportion
- Coronavirus prevention puts Paris-Nice 'behind closed doors'
- Coronavirus: Lappartient says cancelling Giro d'Italia and Tour de France would be a 'disaster' for cycling
- Coronavirus: Cape Epic to go ahead as scheduled
- Coronavirus: Volta a Catalunya hinges on consequences of Spain's closed-door sport decree
- Prudhomme insists Paris-Nice will be completed despite coronavirus epidemic
- Coronavirus: Nibali, Viviani and Trentin call on Italian cyclists to stay home and stay safe
- Coronavirus: Tour of Flanders organiser 'concerned' at prospect of cancellation
- Coronavirus: Tour de Normandie latest race cancelled
- Coronavirus: Volta a Catalunya to restrict public access
March 12, 2020 – Belgian government stops all sporting events in March
The Belgian Minister of Sport Ben Weyts consulted with the various sporting federations on Thursday including Cycling Vlaanderen and decided to halt all sporting events except professional football for the month of March.
Fernando Gaviria confirmed he had tested positive for coronavirus in a social media post from the UAE, where he is hospitalised but feeling fine, while most of Gazprom-RusVelo were allowed to leave after completing their 14-day quarantine in Abu Dhabi.
Organisers of the Volta a Catalunya announced the race would be put off rather than trying to employ the isolation measures used by Paris-Nice.
- Gaviria confirms he has coronavirus
- Tour de Bretagne cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic
- Mitchelton-Scott extend virtual ride series during coronavirus crisis
- Coronavirus: London Bike Show postponed
- Coronavirus: Women's WorldTour Ronde van Drenthe cancelled
- Volta a Catalunya cancelled as part of ongoing coronavirus measures
- Paris-Nice should be stopped now, says Italian riders association
- Most of Gazprom-RusVelo allowed to leave UAE coronavirus quarantine
- Van Garderen leaves Paris-Nice after Trump announces coronavirus travel ban
March 13, 2020 – Giro d'Italia postponed
As Italy's coronavirus situation remained dire and Hungary issued a declaration of a state of emergency, preventing the Budapest Grande Departe from going on, RCS Sport was forced to announce that the Giro d'Italia would be postponed.
The new date for the race will be announced by April 3 as the UCI will need to reschedule almost two months worth of worldwide races.
The ASO, meanwhile, continued Paris-Nice even in light of the French Federation stopping all cycling events with immediate effect (except Paris-Nice), Bahrain McLaren did not start stage 6 to from Sorgues to Apt, while Israel Start-Up Nation decided not to take the start of stage 7.
Cape Epic in South Africa, the Women's Tour in Great Britain, Tour of the Gila and a number of other race in the USA and all racing in Canada through May 1 were cancelled.
- Coronavirus: Vegni suggests an alternative date for Giro d'Italia is possible
- Coronavirus: Alé BTC Ljubljana suspend race programme until April 3
- Tour of the Gila cancelled due to coronavirus
- Gent-Wevelgem and E3 BinckBank Classic cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic
- Paris-Nice to end on Saturday to help fight the spread of coronavirus
- Giro d'Italia stages in Hungary cancelled due to coronavirus fears
- Giro d'Italia postponed due to coronavirus pandemic
- Bahrain-McLaren pull out of Paris-Nice over coronavirus concerns
- Bardet frustrated with riding on at Paris-Nice during coronavirus pandemic
- Cape Epic the latest coronavirus cancellation
- Will Schachmann's Paris-Nice lead turn to victory overnight?
- Coronavirus: Women's Tour postponed
- The coronavirus crisis: Where do cycling and global sports go next? – Podcast
March 14, 2020 – Redlands Bicycle Classic cancelled
As the coronavirus case numbers in the USA increased to over 2,000, the Redlands Bicycle Classic joined the list of cancelled races and USA Cycling was forced to consider how the mass-postponements would affect Olympic Selections as the organisers of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games insisted the event would go forward.
- Coronavirus: Redlands Bicycle Classic joins list of cancelled US races
- Coronavirus cancellations impacting key Tokyo Olympic Games selection events
- Coronavirus: World champion Mads Pedersen leaves Paris-Nice
- Coronavirus: Counting the cost on the Women's WorldTour
March 15, 2020 – UCI suspend all racing until April 3
Governments began taking sweeping action worldwide to shut down movement of people to contain the pandemic. The UCI suspended all races until at least April 3, USA Cycling through April 5. The ASO and Flanders Classics cast doubt on the running of Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix and even the Ardennes Classics as a result.
Riders in Italy and Spain faced problems training as officials discouraged cycling over fears that an accident would take up medical services needed for coronavirus sufferers. With no races, Mathieu van der Poel wondered why riders are even training.
- UCI announces suspension of all races 'until at least April 3'
- Coronavirus: Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders unlikely to run, say race organisers
- USA Cycling suspends sanctioned racing through April 5
- Van der Poel: What are we training for in the next few weeks?
- 'For now, planning is useless' says Groupama-FDJ boss Marc Madiot
- Coronavirus: Australian National Track Championships postponed
- Coronavirus: It will be complicated to organise the Ardennes Classics, admits Prudhomme
March 17 – Flanders, Roubaix, Flèche and Liège postponed
The Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and the men’s and women’s Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège have been officially postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The races were due to take place on April 5, 12, 22 and 26, respectively.
The announcements come after a slew of late-April and early-May races were also postponed or cancelled, including the WorldTour races Itzulia Basque Country and Tour de Romandie and all British events through the end of April, including the Tour de Yorkshire.
- Van Avermaet: Public health is more important than cycling at the moment
- Coronavirus: Race cancellations expand into late April and May
- Van Vleuten leaves altitude camp just as coronavirus restrictions close in
- Coronavirus: Higuita, Quintana face isolation after returning home from Paris-Nice
- Jesper Hansen: I want to race to try to earn myself a new contract
- Bradley Wiggins: Coronavirus could be devastating for riders' livelihoods
- Trentin: Coronavirus goes beyond cycling, beyond sport
- Ulissi: We have to accept that the 2020 season could be cancelled altogether
- British Cycling suspends all events until at least April 30
- WADA monitoring anti-doping testing gaps as coronavirus locks down entire countries
- Coronavirus: Tour de Yorkshire postponed
- Coronavirus: Riders in lockdown get creative with entertainment and training
March 18 – Amstel Gold Race and Scheldeprijs join list of postponments
More races joined the list of postponments as April's Scheldeprijs and Amstel Gold Race were called off. The races were due to be held on April 8 and 19, respectively.
Elsewhere, discussions about the Giro d'Italia's prospective new date got under way, with UCI President David Lappartient suggesting Autumn as a potential position for the Grand Tour as well as the postponed Monument Classics.
- Australian national team staff member tests positive for coronavirus
- Ellingworth: Teams have to be ready for when racing restarts
- Coronavirus: Lappartient says Monuments and shortened Giro d'Italia could be held in Autumn
- Amstel Gold Race and Scheldeprijs fall victim to coronavirus
- UCI denies Giro d'Italia will be rescheduled for late May
- Bigla-Katusha's Chabbey on the front lines of coronavirus response
- Uttrup Ludwig: Coronavirus puts things in perspective
March 19 – Hinault asks for quick decision on Tour de France
With the coronavirus exploding across the globe and hospitals in Spain joining the ones in Italy in being overrun with patients, the voices calling for the Olympic Games and Tour de France to be postponed began to rise.
Bernard Hinault, ambassador to the Tour de France, said: "If the Tour needs to be cancelled, let's not hesitate," adding that the latest the decision can be made would be early June.
- Giro d'Italia remains a goal for Evenepoel despite coronavirus postponement
- Naesen rides 365km around East Flanders after coronavirus ends spring Classics campaign
- Coronavirus: Santini to start making face masks instead of cycling clothing
- Van Vleuten left "aimless and plan-less" after returning to the Netherlands
- Matt White: I fear for the future of some of the smaller races
- New measures at Cycling Australia following staff member's positive coronavirus test
March 20 – June Tour of Slovenia cancelled
- Coronavirus: how riders are coping with the lockdown
- Bernal tests negative for coronavirus after self-isolating on return to Colombia
- Nibali pauses racing plans as cycling becomes secondary to Covid-19 pandemic
- Dan Martin on coronavirus: Take a reality check and stay inside
- Deceuninck-Quickstep: Tour de France riders will likely get priority when racing resumes
- Vanhoucke punched in the face several times by driver while training
- Tour of Slovenia cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic
- Warning of two-speed Tour de France if some riders train outdoors during Covid-19 lockdown
March 21 – Harm Vanhoucke assaulted while training
The escalating crisis threatens both the future of riders out of contract and races and, according to Quickstep boss Patrick Lefevere, the entire business model of cycling.
Lotto Soudal's Harm Vanhoucke, out training in Belgium where non-essential travel is prohibited but athletes are allowed to train alone outside, was assaulted by a driver.
- Dan Martin on coronavirus: Take a reality check and stay inside
- Vanhoucke punched in the face several times by driver while training
- Lefevere: The cycling model could collapse if the Tour de France is cancelled
- Dutch federation president supports Olympic Games postponement
- Kalas hope to flatten the coronavirus curve with over 9000 face masks
March 22 – IOC says Olympics cancellation not on agenda
The IOC issued a statement saying that cancellation of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo was not on the agenda. Elsehwere, Lotto Soudal riders Thomas De Gendt and Jasper De Buyst honoured Milan-San Remo with a 300km training ride.
- De Gendt and De Buyst honour Milan-San Remo with 300km training ride
- George Bennett on life in lockdown and losing at Zwift
- IOC: Cancellation of Olympic Games is not on the agenda
- Vaughters shares Lefevere's concerns over sponsorship model if Tour de France is cancelled
- Egan Bernal: Olympic Games should be postponed
March 23 – First nations pull out of Olympics
- Coronavirus: Gaviria and Richeze among eight still in quarantine after UAE Tour
- Coronavirus: Canada and Australia become first nations to pull out of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games
- Froome and Van Baarle return home early from South Africa to avoid coronavirus shutdown
- Riders put in mammoth virtual rides during coronavirus lockdown
- Dick Pound says 2020 Olympic Games will be postponed
- Coronavirus: Canadian Leah Kirchmann chooses to stay in the Netherlands
- Commentary: Why it's better not to ride together in the time of coronavirus
March 24 – Tokyo Olympics postponed to 2021
The big news of the day was the confirmed postponement of the Olympic Games. In the wake of the announcement numerous athletes, including 2016 road race champions Anna van der Breggen and Greg Van Avermaet, gave their opinion of the move.
- Tokyo Olympics to be postponed until 2021 due to coronavirus pandemic
- Cycling Australia targets potentially rescheduled Olympic Games in 16 months' time
- Coronavirus lockdown and calendar uncertainty leave French riders in limbo
- Thibaut Pinot: I'm at my peak but 2020 could be a lost year
- Annemiek van Vleuten: I'm more concerned about global health than the Olympics
- UCI satisfied with Olympics postponement 'in the health and sporting interests of the athletes'
- Anna van der Breggen: Postponing the Olympic Games is a relief
- Fuglsang: It's a pity the Olympics have been postponed
- Van Avermaet: A safe Olympics wouldn't have been possible
- Evenepoel in shock over Olympic postponement
- Van der Poel: A four-year plan for the Tokyo Games is ruined
- Cycling New Zealand announces support for Olympics postponement
- Coronavirus: Trentin suggests a combined Italy-Spain-France Grand Tour
- Coronavirus: British Cycling extends event suspension to June 30
- Dygert Owen supports postponement of Olympic Games
- Ben King: I feel more at risk in the US than I did in Italy
March 25 – A Tour behind closed doors?
France's sports minister suggested that the Tour de France could be held behind closed doors if it were to go ahead in July. UAE Team Emirates rider Max Richeze was finally released from hospital after testing negative for coronavirus. Meanwhile, the mayor of Kluisbergen said that reorganising the Tour of Flanders in 2020 was unlikely.
- Richie Porte: Olympics postponement 'was right decision'
- Belgium extends road season but a 2020 Tour of Flanders 'unlikely'
- Romain Bardet: It would be a great sign if Tour de France could be held in July
- Coronavirus: Cookson suggests 2020 Grand Tours be reduced to two weeks
- Coronavirus: Richeze released from UAE hospital after double negative test
- Valverde targets delayed Tokyo Olympics: In 2021, I'll be racing
- Deignan motivated to continue racing into delayed 2021 Olympic Games
- Tour de France could happen 'behind closed doors' says French sports minister
- Attila Valter proposes new way to help pass time on home trainer
March 26 – Belgian riders face 50km training limit
Belgian riders face limits on time spent riding outdoors after the country's interior minister mooted a 50km rule in an interview with Het Nieuwsblad.
- Lefevere: I can't see how you can fit the Tour, Giro, Vuelta and Classics into a few months
- Van Aert: Olympics postponement increases my chances of being selected
- Pinot on coronavirus pandemic: Bike races mean nothing next to this
- Coronavirus: Riders told to update anti-doping Whereabouts during lockdown as CADF aims to continuing testing
- Israel Start-Up Nation doctors battle coronavirus on the front lines
- Coronavirus: Belgian cyclists could face 50km ride limit
- Thibaut Pinot's father tests positive for Covid-19
- Amanda Spratt: My goals and dreams haven't changed – just the dates
- Remco Evenepoel takes aim at World Championships as priorities change
- Could this be the new post-coronavirus men's WorldTour calendar?
March 27 – Gaviria finally released from hospital
Fernando Gaviria was finally released from hospital in the UAE after testing negative for the virus. Elsewhere, Unipublic, the organisers of the Vuelta a España, said that they are working as if the race will go ahead as planned in late August.
- Vuelta a España organisers working as if race will go ahead as planned
- Madiot open to a Tour de France behind closed doors
- Fernando Gaviria released from UAE hospital after final coronavirus test
- Coronavirus: Lotto Soudal riders voluntarily reduce pay
- Coronavirus: 2020 Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Championships postponed
March 28 – ASO give May 15 deadline for Tour decision
Tour de France organisers ASO reportedly set a deadline of May 15 for a decision on whether the Tour de France will go ahead in July, behind closed doors, or be delayed.
- ASO set May 15 deadline for Tour de France decision
- Dan Martin leads virtual ride to deliver masks to medical personnel
- Coronavirus: USA Cycling announce layoffs in anticipation of 30% revenue loss
- Spekenbrink: For the Tour to be run, it must be safe
- Alaphilippe: I'd rather not imagine a Tour de France without fans
March 29 – Chabbey continues work in Swiss hospital
Bigla-Katusha rider Elise Chabbey continues her work battling the virus in a Swiss hospital, a month after starting.