Following the cancellation of Strade Bianche on Thursday, RCS Sport has confirmed that Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and the Giro di Sicilia have also been postponed. The organiser has pledged to seek replacement dates later in the calendar. The GP Larciano and Settimana Coppi e Bartali have also been cancelled, while the Trofeo Binda has been postponed until June 2.
The news comes after the Italian government announced the suspension until April 3 of all sporting events in the country, barring those able to be held in closed arenas.
A number of teams have announced their withdrawals from racing for varying time periods, and we've created a page for you to keep track of them all – Coronavirus: Team withdrawal tracker
Meanwhile, Cofidis, Groupama-FDJ, Gazprom-RusVelo and UAE Team Emirates riders and staff at the UAE Tour remain in quarantine until March 14. Four riders have reportedly caught coronavirus, among 12 cases linked to the race, and are beeing monitored in hospital.
Finally, here's our explainer on the virus – What is the Covid-19 coronavirus and how might it continue to affect professional cycling?
Welcome to a special edition of our live coverage, in which we'll keep you up to date with the fast-moving news on Covid-19 coronavirus.
With European races facing possible cancellation and teams remaining in quarantine in the UAE, we'll bring you all the latest developments on the virus and its effect on the cycling world.
It's been a busy morning so far, with a number of coronavirus news stories surfacing already.
Italian races at risk
First up, a number of upcoming Italian races are at risk of cancellation as the country's government weighs up a decision on whether to suspend all sporting events over the next month.
If the decision to do so is approved, then the Strade Bianche (March 7), GP Industria & Artigianato (March 8), Tirreno-Adriatico (March 11-17), Milan-San Remo (March 21), and Settimana Coppi e Bartali (March 25-29) will be affected, along with the Women's WorldTour races Strade Bianche (March 7) and Trofeo Alfreo Binda (March 22).
EF Pro Cycling seek race withdrawals
Jonathan Vaughters' EF Pro Cycling team have already requested permission to withdraw from Strade, Tirreno and San Remo, writing to the UCI and race organisers RCS Sport.
"This isn't about panic," Vaughters told Cyclingnews. "This is about being responsible. We will be doing plenty of races this year, and if these races get rescheduled, or even if they come up with ways to eliminate this risk in present time, we will be there."
RCS Sport boss Vegni speaks
Race director of RCS Sport Mauro Vegni has spoken to Italian website Tuttobiciweb about the possibility of Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo being cancelled this month.
"We're close to the dates for three big races: Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo and as we said a few days ago, our intention is to put on the races and so put on a shoe for the fans.
"However the news about the coronavirus that is emerging is clear: The indications from the (Italian) Scientific Committee leave little space for manoeuvre and if they are adopted by the government, we'll be forced to cancel the three races.
"We intend to work alongside the UCI to find new slots in the calendar for these races, which we absolutely don’t want to lose."
UAE quarantines for French squads
Meanwhile, as we await the final decision of the Italian government, the situation in the UAE, where the virus first hit the cycling world, has escalated.
Two of the three teams forced to stay behind at the UAE Tour after the initial outbreak have announced that they'll stay in quarantine until March 14. Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ made statements confirming the news earlier this morning.
"Admittedly, the deadline is distant (though it is only 10 days) but, in a way, it is kind of a relief," said Cofidis team President Thierry Vittu.
"Indeed, as I have had the opportunity to say and write, what was difficult to live with until now was the absence of a deadline and the ongoing wait for a prompt outcome, which never came. It was a source of anxiety and stress."
Both teams have ben found to be clear of the virus, though six new cases among the race entourage were announced late on Tuesday night by the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention.
Some light relief among all the bad news – here's Cofidis riders Nathan Haas and Attilio Viviani with their tips on how to keep fit while in quarantine.
Four riders test positive for virus
The latest news emerging from the UAE is that four riders have caught the coronavirus, reports La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Last night, it was announced that there were six new cases among the race entourage, with two Russians, two Italians, one German and one Colombian affected.
This morning, reports emerged that both Russians, the Colombian and an Italian are riders, with UAE Team Emirates sprinter Fernando Gaviria thought to be the Colombian in question. His family told El Tiempo that they had tried to contact the 25-year-old but have as-yet been unable to.
UAE Team Emirates rider Diego Ulissi is among the men still in the country after his team voluntarily stayed behind as a precautionary measure.
Last night, his wife Arianna gave birth to a baby girl, Anna. Ulissi took to Twitter to welcome his second child, saying that he couldn't wait to hug them and his first daughter, Lia, when he returns home.
Benvenuta Anna!!!!! Il parto è andato benissimo stanno entrambe bene!! Non vedo l ora di abbracciare le mie donne!! Arianna Lia Anna ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/q7WOekkDrXMarch 3, 2020
Statement from Lotto manager Lelangue
Lotto Soudal general manager John Lelangue has released a statement via press release regarding the prospect of upcoming race cancellations.
"As General Manager of Team Lotto Soudal I would like to state that it is my sincere wish and the wish of all our riders and staff to be able to start in all Italian and French races of the coming days and weeks," he said.
"Our respect for the history of cycling, the cycling fans, the organizers and media is high. We really want that the races can go on, despite the ongoing spread of Covid-19."
Despite his hope for the racing to continue, Lelangue added that the team will respect any decision made by the UCI, race organisers and national governments.
"We have a great confidence in the medical experts of the countries involved. That’s why we will respect any future decision made by authorities of those countries – governments as well as race organizers and UCI. We are in constant contact with them and we hope for the best."
Unions meet with UCI boss Lappartient
UCI President David Lappartient has met with a number of cycling associations and unions to discuss the repercussions of the coronavirus.
The Frenchman spoke with representatives from the association of race organisers (AIOCC), the men's professional road team's association (AIGCP), and the professional rider's union (CPA). A UCI press release will follow later today.
Three-hour meeting this morning with the @AIOCCycl @AigcpOfficial and @cpacycling on the repercussions of the coronavirus. Thank you to all parties involved for their sense of responsibility during this challenging period. A press release will follow in the hours to come. pic.twitter.com/5Wjf03FhdWMarch 4, 2020
Vegni suggests alternative race dates
RCS Sport boss Mauro Vegni has told the Adnkronos news agency that any postponed races could be held on alternate dates later in the season.
"We've got an alternative plan so the races aren't lost," he said. "They could be held after the Giro d'Italia in June or even in September."
RCS Sport races in March include Milan-San Remo, Tirreno-Adriatico and both the men's and women's Strade Bianche. All are at high risk of cancellation, with a government decision on the suspension of sporting events in the country expected later today.
Parkhotel Valkenburg withdraw from races
In addition to EF Pro Cycling's request to withdraw from RCS Sport's upcoming races, which could be cancelled in any case, women's team Parkhotel Valkenburg has announced that they will not take the start at Strade Bianche Women or the Trofeo Alfredo Binda (March 22).
In a statement posted to Twitter, the team said that they are taking responsibility and choosing health over results, rather than waiting for the Italian government or the UCI to make a decision over whether the races will be run.
To go or not to go. We take our own responsibility. #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/t6H8zW94gqMarch 4, 2020
Jumbo-Visma pull out of Strade Bianche
Jumbo-Visma has announced that they will not participate in this weekend's races in Italy at Strade Bianche and the GP Industria & Artigianato. The Dutch team revealed the news in a statement on the team website.
"The decision has been taken on medical advice, the recommendation of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as on sportive and practical grounds.
"It’s likely that the same decision will apply to other Italian races in March. However, we are also awaiting messages from the Italian government."
The statement goes on to say that Jumbo and a number of other teams "are in close contact with the UCI, who will make their decisions known shortly."
Team Jumbo-Visma decide not to participate in Italy this weekend🗣 @RichardPlugge: “Together with the management of our team, I am constantly considering and acting in the interest of the health and working conditions of our riders and staff members"March 4, 2020
Earlier today, Jumbo-Visma team boss Richard Plugge called on the UCI to show strong leadership and clarity going forward.
"It is particularly important that the UCI makes a decision that is independent of the stakeholders, but in the interest of the health of all involved. It is now important for the UCI to take a strong position," he told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
Here's our news story on Jumbo-Visma' decision to pull out of this weekend's race in Italy.
Pro team doctors request race cancellations
14 doctors from around professional cycling have sent a letter to race organisers ASO and RCS Sport as well as the sport's governing body, the UCI, to request the cancellation of upcoming races due to the coronavirus outbreak in Europe.
The letter, signed by four doctors from EF Pro Cycling, as well as doctors at CCC, Sunweb, Israel Start-Up Nation, Jumbo-Visma, Cofidis, Lotto Soudal and Movistar, utlines four areas of concern: the lack of protocols in place to safeguard against the spread; the lack of diagnostic guidelines; the lack of resources in overburdened medical facilities; and the knock-on effects of any quarantine periods.
Meanwhile, in the UAE, Groupama-FDJ rider is looking for ways to make time in quarantine (another nine days) go by quicker.
Can somebody send a PlayStation to our hotel? We can compete on high level FIFA20 since cycling races are not possible coming weeks😒😜🙏March 4, 2020
Team travel plans for Strade Bianche in disarray
As races hang in the balance, teams across Europe are unsure about how to proceed with travel plans to Italy for both races at Strade Bianche this weekend.
A number of teams were set to fly to Italy from Brussels airport today, though Boels Dolmans eventually decided to stay behind.
Meanwhile, Lotto Soudal sent their truck, bus and team cars to Italy on Tuesday. "It is not yet officially known whether or not the course is taking place. If that is not the case, we will simply return," general manager John Lelangue told Het Nieuwsblad. Circus-Wanty Gobert vehicles left on Tuesday too.
Deceuninck-QuickStep boss Patrick Lefevere said that his staff have stopped in Reims, France en route to Italy. "I let my employees stop at Reims," he told Het Nieuwsblad. "The rest are waiting in the service course in Wevelgem. We are now waiting for further news about these races."
CCC Team and Jumbo-Visma have not yet departed for Italy, with both saying that they would wait for official news.
Trek-Segafredo soigneur Josue Garcia took to Twitter with his planned route, adding that staff are waiting on the UCI for a decision.
Staff situation for Italian races.. all waiting for #UCI #stradebianche pic.twitter.com/3zznmC8FvVMarch 4, 2020
Mitchelton-Scott withdraw from March races
Mitchelton-Scott have made the biggest move yet by a pro team. The Australian team has withdrawn both men's and women's squads from the following races:
- Strade Bianche (men and women), March 7
- GP Industria & Artigianato (men), March 8
- Paris-Nice (men), March 8-15
- Tirreno-Adriatico (men), March 11-17
- Ronde Van Drenthe (women), March 15
- Danilith Nokere Koerse (women), March 18
- Milan-San Remo (men), March 21
- Trofeo Alfredo Binda (women), March 22
In the statement, thee team cites a duty of care to the wider team as a reason for the measure, adding that they would have no input or control over measures to manage coronavirus risks at the races. Also cited are the constant travel and logistical and health risks involved, plus reducing potential impact on hospitals.
The move is the biggest signal yet that the spring schedule – beyond the upcoming Italian races – is set to be heavily disrupted.
STATEMENT: Mitchelton-SCOTT position regarding COVID-19.Following extensive discussions, we have made the decision to withdraw our teams from the next period of racing, regardless of the individual Government Regulations in place.More details 👇https://t.co/nV8lbx0eG4March 4, 2020
The UCI's rulebook does have regulations (2.15.128 if you're interested) against the 'unjustified absence' of WorldTour teams at WorldTour races, with cumulative fines and escalating suspensions up to revokation of the WorldTour license.
However, given the coronavirus situation growing more serious day by day, the rule is not likely to be enforced in this situation.
CCC-Liv are the latest team to withdraw from a race, opting out of Strade Bianche Women on Saturday.
Team manager Eric van den Boom said, "Recent developments, including a negative travel advice for Northern Italy, have now made us decide to withdraw from the Strade Bianche. The risks are simply too big.
"We make this decision with mixed feelings, because we were really looking forward to this beautiful and well-organised race. The mind, however, has won from the emotion. The health and safety of our riders and staff have the highest priority at all times."
Australian team to miss events including Strade Bianche, Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and Trofeo Binda
Back in the UAE and riders are finally receiving their bikes on day six of their quarantine in an Abu Dhabi hotel. Nathan Haas (Cofidis) and Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) took to Instagram to rejoice at the chance to get on their ergo trainers after their enforced break.
Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ riders (Haas, Démare and Sinkeldam shown here) have received their bikes for the first time, on day 6 of coronavirus quarantine in the UAE pic.twitter.com/R23WbLh70LMarch 4, 2020
UCI statement on UAE quarantine
The UCI has confirmed that it has been informed of the quarantine of Cofidis, Groupama-FDJ and Gazprom-Rusvelo in the UAE until March 14, adding that the six additional people who caught coronavirus are being monitored in hospital.
A statement from the governing body also answers some of the criticisms riders and teams have had in recent days, namely the food being served, room cleaning, and availability of bikes and ergo trainers.
"The UCI continues to closely follow the situation and is committed to ensuring that all those concerned can return home as soon as possible," the statemnt reads. "It is also taking care that there is optimal communication with the concerned teams so that they are informed on a daily basis of the evolution of the situation.
"The UCI would like to thank the teams being held in Abu Dhabi for their patience in this difficult situation and for their contribution to the fight against the spreading of the coronavirus, and lends its support to them in this context which is critical for the world’s population, including for members of the cycling family."
Quarantine of three teams that participated in the UAE Tour: UCI statement https://t.co/pnO2sBiFf7 pic.twitter.com/sGCehBxdMwMarch 4, 2020
Not all of the team's squads are still in the UAE, however. Several members of Groupama-FDJ were able to leave along with the bulk of the race entourage on Sunday.
Italian Jacopo Guarnieri was among them, and he's taken to Twitter to clarify his situation.
"Although my team has been blocked for further check in the United Arab Emirates, I have been granted the opportunity to leave for Italy on the morning of March 1st," his statement reads.
"I'm in excellent health: All the tests I have undergone have given negative results to coronavirus, as well as those [taken] by my teammates and staff," he adds, concluding that he's disappointed not to be with his teammates who are still held in the UAE.
Scusate la ridondanza del mio faccione 😬 pic.twitter.com/Bps1NW4esFMarch 4, 2020
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte just made an address live on television to announce that schools and universities in the country will be closed until March 15. There was no word on sporting events, though a statement is expected at some point today.
Groupama-FDJ sprinter Arnaud Démare has talked to L'Equipe about being stuck in quarantine, noting how frustrating the experience has been so far.
"The current condition is declining," he said. "It's hard to swallow, to tell yourself that you're in slow motion at the moment. We hope the condition won't go away overnight, but six days...
"It's strange," he said of the isolation. "At breakfast they ring the bell and the man who brings it quickly disappears. We eat, we watch TV series on the internet, we watched Le Samyn.
"We had some fun making Instagram stories with Ramon [Sinkeldam, his roommate] to make light of the situation. Until now, we used to go and visit the neighbours, to [Ignatas] Konovalovas, but considering what happened last night [the new positive cases – Ed.], I don't know if it'll still be possible. We're going to have to stay in the rooms even longer."
Here's our story on the UCI's statement on the UAE coronavirus cases, the first time the sport's governing body has spoken on the matter.
UCI: 'No race cancellations'
The UCI has issued a statement regarding the impacy of coronavirus on the pro cycling calendar. Coming after UCI President David Lappartient's earlier meeting with the association of race organisers (AIOCC), the men's professional road team's association (AIGCP), and the professional rider's union (CPA), the message notes that "a decision has been taken not to proceed with the cancellation of any events at this stage."
The statement goes on to say that decisions about race cancellations will fall upon health authorities in affected regions, but notes that a series of risk-mitigating protocols must be taken by race organisers.
"These include increasing the distance between the public and riders, particularly in the start and finish zones; respecting a strict medical protocol, variable depending on the country, but in any case including a process for dealing with suspected cases and the provision of a detailed map of establishments capable of carrying out diagnostic tests for the coronavirus; limiting the number of teams staying in each hotel; respecting certain hygiene measures, for example avoiding the use of the same pen by riders signing in at the beginning of the race."
Teams who wish not to participate in races "for a valid reason" will be reasonably accomodated on a case-by-case basis "to ensure that no team is penalised, either financially or when their sporting results are considered, in particular when it comes to evaluating their UCI WorldTeam or UCI ProTeam status.
"The UCI will write to each of cycling’s different groups – teams, riders, organisers and National Federations – with details of measures taken and the procedure to follow.
"The UCI would like to thank the members of the cycling family for their contribution to this fight against the spreading of the coronavirus and calls for the unity of all parties, necessary in this context."
Impact of the coronavirus on the UCI International Calendar https://t.co/yS2dVG1Z5z pic.twitter.com/a8CeBzAC8fMarch 4, 2020
So, still we wait for the Italian government to make a decision on the possiblity of banning public and sporting events for the next month.
Should that go though, then Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo, Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Milan-San Remo, and a host of other races will be cancelled, as we reported earlier.
Groupama-FDJ withdraw from Italian races
The latest team to announce its withdrawal from a host of races is Groupama-FDJ, who have several riders stuck in quarantine in the UAE until March 14.
The French squad stated that they're unable to race at Strade Bianche (March 7), GP Industria & Artigianato (March 8) and at Tirreno-Adriatico (March 11-17), citing a lack of available riders and staff due to the ongoing quarantine.
pic.twitter.com/RBbyU4yJmKMarch 4, 2020
So to round things up, that's Jumbo-Visma, Mitchelton-Scott and Groupama-FDJ out of this weekend's racing at Strade Bianche and GP Larciano, while EF Pro Cycling have requested to withdraw from Strade Bianche plus Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo.
Meanwhile, Mitchelton-Scott have gone even further, calling a halt to all race participation until March 22. So Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and Paris-Nice are also off the menu for the men's squad, while the women's team will miss the Ronde van Drenthe, Nokere Koerse and the Trofeo Binda.
Elsewhere, doctors from several other teams (CCC, Sunweb, Israel Start-Up Nation, Cofidis, Lotto Soudal, Movistar, Alpecin-Fenix, Rally Cycling and Total Direct Énergie) have written to the UCI and race organisers ASO and RCS Sport to request cancellation of Tirreno and Paris-Nice.
The Italian government has, in the last few minutes, passed a decree halting all sporting and public events until April 3, barring events that can take place in a closed arena.
The decision will certainly mean the cancellation of the men's and women's edition of Strade Bianche, Strade Bianche, GP Larciano [Industria & Artigianato], the 1.2 race Popolarissima, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, the elite and junior races at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, the Settimana Coppi e Bartali, and the Tour of Sicily.
Italian government suspends sporting events
Here's our article on the Italian government's decision.
The month's calendar of major races looks quite bare now that the big Italian races are set to be cancelled.
March 8-15: Paris-Nice
March 15: Ronde van Drenthe (women's)
March 18: Danilith Nokere Koerse (men's, women's)
March 19: GP Denain
March 20: Bredene Koksijde Classic
March 23-29: Volta a Catalunya
March 25: Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne (men's, women's)
March 27: E3 BinckBank Classic
March 29: Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields (men's, women's)
Van der Poel heading to Spain for training camp
Alpecin-Fenix star Mathieu van der Poel has already been forced to delay his 2020 Classics debut after missing Omloop Het Nieuwsblad due to flu, and will now be forced to do so again as Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo look to wiped from his schedule.
Sporza reports that the Dutchman will head to Benicassim on Spain's east coast tomorrow, in order to join his teammates for a training camp.
Last week, team manager Christoph Roodhoft mooted Nokere Koerse (March 18) as a contingency race. The Volta a Catalunya (March 23-29) remains on Van der Poel's calendar.
The Women's professional rider's union (WCPA) has made a short statement on Twitter, noting the Italian government's decision to cancel sporting events in the country.
Strade Bianche Women and Trofeo Alfredo Binda are set to be cancelled as a result of the decree.
The latest government provisions in Italy impose a stop to all public events, including the sporting ones, until April 3. Unfortunately no #StradeBianche or #TrofeoBinda will take place regularly. #CPAwomen #WeAreTheRiders #StrongerTogether 📷 AFP/UAEtour pic.twitter.com/ji8tkwfZxQMarch 4, 2020
RCS Sport issue statement
RCS Sport, the organisers of Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo, have announced that they will communicate updates and details on their planned upcoming races in thee coming days, following the Italian government decree to cancel all public and sporting events up until April 3.
The men's and women's Strade Bianche (March 7), Tirreno-Adriatico (March 11-17), Milan-San Remo (March 21) and the Tour of Sicily (April 1-4) are all set to be affected by the move. RCS Sport noted that they would meet with the appropriate authorities starting tomorrow morning.
The organisers also announced that the Gran Fondo Strade Bianche (March 8) has been cancelled, with a new date to be announced.
In light of the statement from RCS Sport, we've updated our article on the Italian government's decision to suspend sporting events in the country until April 3.
World champion Annemiek van Vleuten has expressed her disappointment at not being able to defend his Strade Bianche title on Saturday.
The Dutchwoman's Mitchelton-Scott team had previously communicated that they are withdrawing from all races across their men's and women's teams until March 22 due to the coronavirus outbreak. Van Vleuten added that she was glad her team putting the health of riders and staff first.
Team Ineos withdraw from upcoming races
Team Ineos have stated that they will withdraw from racing for a period of time, returning at the Volta a Catalunya on March 23.
Team principal Dave Brailsford said that the decision was taken in light of directeur sportif Nicolas Portal's passing on Tuesday, while also taking into consideration the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
"We have taken this decision given the unique set of circumstances we are facing," he said. "This is a uniquely sad moment for everyone at the Team. We have lost someone we all loved very much and are all grieving for Nico.
"It is right for the Team given what has happened, but I also believe it is in the best interests of both cycling and the wider public."
What is the Covid-19 coronavirus?
The Covid-19 coronavirus situation affecting pro cycling is changing rapidly, with teams withdrawing from races, others stuck in quarantine in the UAE, and Italian races facing cancellation over the next month.
But what about the virus itself? What exactly is coronavirus? Cyclingnews dug into the facts, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sites, in order to be able to explain more about the virus, who it affects and why it is important to control its spread.
Deceuninck doctor not requesting cancellation of Italian races
While doctors from 11 teams have signed a letter adressed to the UCI and race organisers RCS Sport and ASO requesting the cancellation of the upcoming races Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and Paris-Nice, Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reported on Wednesday that Deceuninck-QuickStep's doctor, Yvan Vanmol, was conscientiously not among the signatories.
Israel Start-Up Nation feeder team quarantined
While riders and staff members at Israel Start-Up Nation were being given until Wednesday evening to decide whether they wanted to take part in the upcoming – although now likely cancelled – Strade Bianche, Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico with regards to fears about the coronavirus, the WorldTour outfit's feeder team has had its race plans hampered by new Israeli health authorities' guidelines for returning to Israel from Europe.
Members of the Israel Cycling Academy Continental team were due to race at the Arava Gran Fondo in Sapir on Saturday. But, according to the team's Facebook page, the new government directives state that anyone arriving back in Israel from France, Germany, Spain, Austria or Switzerland is obliged to quarantine themselves at home for a period of 14 days to try to prevent the spread of the virus.
Five of the team's riders had apparently already returned to Israel from Spain for the race, with two more riders who were scheduled to join them now set not to travel.
"It hurts us to give up such a great race, but the health of our riders, their families and the public is much more critical," team manager Aviad Israel said.
Vanmarcke on coronavirus: It's a bad situation
Belgian Classics specialist Sep Vanmarcke is supposed to already be in Tuscany, Italy, for this Saturday's Strade Bianche, but a combination of its likely cancellation due to coronavirus concerns and his own EF Pro Cycling team's request to the UCI and race organiser RCS Sport for them not to have to ride the upcoming Italian spring races means that Vanmarcke is training at home in Belgium, waiting to see what happens next.
Astana stop all racing until March 20
Astana is the latest team to stop racing due to fears of the coronavirus.
The team has announced: "For a period of 15 days, Astana Pro Team will withdraw from races due to the COVID-19 virus. Starting from today, the team won’t participate in any competition until March 20th. This decision has been made after careful consideration of the team’s management and its doctors."
Because of this decision, Astana said it won’t participate in the following races: Strade Bianche, Paris-Nice, and Tirreno-Adriatico.
“With this measurement, we have chosen to protect the health of our riders and staff and to take our responsibility for the society in not further spreading the virus," team manager Alexander Vinokourov said.
"Of course, we would have preferred to participate in all upcoming races, but for now, it’s safety first. We still have a long season ahead with many other important races. It was not an easy decision, but we have to protect the cycling family as well as our own families at home."
Astana Pro Team withdraws from racing until March 20"With this measurement, we have chosen to protect the health of our riders and staff and to take our responsibility for the society in not further spreading the virus."Read more: https://t.co/v7J27Y98k5📷@GettySport pic.twitter.com/xZ0PsVboHoMarch 5, 2020
We posted about this yesterday, but riders in quaratine in the UAE have received their bikes and are able to train indoors for the first time since the end of the UAE Tour last weekend.
Noël arrive en Mars pour nos coureurs confinés à Abu Dhabi : vélos et home trainers pour permettre de reprendre leurs entraînements. Merci à ceux qui ont permis cela 🙏Christmas in March for our riders : bikes and home trainers for the training. Thanks a lot 🙏#CofidisMyTeam pic.twitter.com/2PHpxYj9ggMarch 5, 2020
Difficulties on our way make us more united and stronger! Yesterday our team #Colnago bicycles were finally transferred to us! We are back to trainings! 🚴♂️🇦🇪⠀#RockTheRoyalBlueJersey #TeamRussia #GazpromRusVelo #cycling #covid19 #ciclismo #uae pic.twitter.com/1GUotM6OmiMarch 5, 2020
NTT to continue racing
NTT Pro Cycling have announced that they're committed to continuing racing, naming Paris-Nice as their next race. Strade Bianche, yet to be officially cancelled, is conspicuous by its absence there.
UPDATE⤵️@NTTProCycling remains committed to fulfilling our upcoming race schedule.We are in constant contact with race organisers and relevant authorities & will take any guidance on participation from them.Our next scheduled race is @ParisNice on Sunday.March 5, 2020
Here's our news story on Astana's decision to withdraw from racing for the next two weeks.
Belgian colleague Renaat Schotte has reported that the meeting between Strade Bianche organisers RCS Sport and local authorities in Siena is set to begin in five minutes. A communication is due at 2pm CET.
Latest about the Italian races: meeting between local authorities & RCS due to start at 11. Communication of the outcome expected to be released around 2 pm #StradeBianche #CoronaMarch 5, 2020
While a number of teams have pulled out of Strade Bianche and other upcoming races, Bora-Hansgrohe are in Italy and are currently out on a recon ride.
@BORAhansgrohe on their reconride for @StradeBianche pic.twitter.com/bbANRiqgKgMarch 5, 2020
Out story on RCS Sport meeting with local authorities in Siena about the plausibility of running Strade Bianche is up. Read it here
'Racing in Italy is like sending people into a fire'
Organiser of the E3 BinckBank Classic (March 27) Jacques Coussens has spoke to Het Laatste Nieuws about the threat of coronavirus to his race and the other Flanders Classics set to take place this spring. He likened racing in Italy right now to "sending people into a fire while it's still burning."
"I know that canceling the Italian rates is a disaster for the organiser. But I'm also thinking about our race. The E3 takes place in the week after Milan-Sanremo," he said.
"The riders will be staying in hotels with us on Monday. What if someone in Italy is found to be infected and the entire hotel is quarantined? Then all races after Milan-Sanremo are in danger. "
"Racing in Italy now is like sending people into a fire while it's still burning. That is asking for an infection. And what kind of field will there be at the start?"
Coussens went on to say his race would lose money should the race be cancelled, but an alternative "VIP event" could be set up instead.
"The problem is now in Italy and perhaps it also Paris-Nice. Then it's about us. The situation changes every day. We don't have an emergency scenario yet, but we owe it to ourselves to take this into account."
Strade Bianche postponed
Strade Bianche has reportedly been postponed.
AG2R La Mondiale withdraw from Italian races
AG2R La Mondiale are the latest team to withdraw from races. They'll miss Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo next week.
"As team manager I cannot risk the health and integrity of our staff when the health situation is so unstable in Italy, and many legitimate questions have been raised within the team," said team manager Vincent Lavenu.
"Sporting interests should not overshadow prudence and wisdom when it comes to public health. We are very sorry for the organisers of these legendary races, and we have informed them of our decision."
Suite à l’annulation des Strade Bianche, la direction générale de l’équipe a décidé de ne pas participer non plus aux courses organisées en Italie (Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo) par mesure de précaution pour la santé de nos coureurs et des membres de l’encadrement. pic.twitter.com/HV2cLrbAAMMarch 5, 2020
RCS Sport have informed teams of the decision to postpone Strade Bianche.
It's official – Strade Bianche is off.
The Mayor of Siena, Luigi De Mossi, has told a local newspaper that he's "convinced that the race will only be postponed and not cancelled."
The comments echo what RCS Sport's Mauro Vegni said on Wednesday. He suggested June or September dates as alternatives.
Boels Dolmans are the first team to react to the news.
The @boelsdolmansct cycling team regrets the unavoidable decision by the @StradeBianche organisation to cancel this years race. We wish the organisation of Strade Bianche all the best with this sad situation and hope they can find a new date for this unique race. #StradeBianche pic.twitter.com/D57R4m1TrsMarch 5, 2020
RCS Sport statements
"We are sad to announce that Strade Bianche will not be disputed, after last night's decree law was made a last meeting with the authorities and the impossibility to start the race emerged," RCS Sport said in the letter sent to the teams and obtained by Cyclingnews.
"Due to the coronavirus emergency Italian authorities blocked the organization. Please advise all your staff and riders."
In a press release sent out by the organisation, RCS Sport stated that they hope to find a new date for both races.
"After the meeting this morning at the Prefecture of Siena, in the presence of His Excellency the Prefect and the Mayor of Siena, verified that there are no conditions for guaranteeing the provisions of the DPCM (Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic) on 4 March 2020, RCS Sport has agreed with the appropriate authorities to cancel the two cycling races scheduled for Saturday 7 March: Strade Bianche and Strade Bianche Women Elite.
"RCS Sport will request the UCI, via the Italian Cycling Federation, to allocate a new date on the international cycling calendar for Strade Bianche and Strade Bianche Women Elite."
Deceuninck-QuickStep alter plans
Deceuninck-QuickStep have reacted quickly to the news. The team had held back trucks, cars and staff while awaiting a final decision on Strade Bianche, and now they've re-jigged their Paris-Nice team and will also be adding two races to their calendar.
"Our selection for Paris-Nice is being changed, whereby the riders for the classics have been given priority," team DS Wilfred Peeters told Sporza.
"Zdenek Štybar, Kasper Asgreen and Bob Jungels join the team, [while] Dries Devenyns, Rémi Cavagna and Tim Declercq fall out of the team.
"We can prepare them in other competitions, such as the Monseré GP on Sunday. We have also added the GP Denain to our program.
"Some riders now want to go on an training camp to Spain, but we have also put the Denain GP on the program. Riders such as Florian Sénéchal and Tim Declercq will certainly be riding the GP Monseré on Sunday."
Organisers of the GP Monseré, a Belgian 1.1 race held on Saturday, have said that four spots are available on their start list for teams looking for a race day after Strade Bianche was cancelled.
Deceuninck-QuickStep and Lotto Soudal are the only WorldTour teams already on the start list.
Official statement: " We know what a cancellation means. We sympathize with our Italian colleagues. We can add 4 teams to our starting list in case of cancellation". #Storm2019 #CoronvirusMarch 4, 2020
2018 Strade Bianche winner Anna van der Breggen took to Instagram to say cancelling the race was "maybe the best decision", but added that "still a lot [is] unsure", saying that she doesn't know her next race and that "planning is impossible at the moment."
❌❌❌ Maybe the best decision, bit still a lot unsure.. Next race?🤷♀️ Don’t know. Planning is everything in sports but impossible at the moment. We’ll take it day by day i guess. #moretraining #corona #stayhealthyandhappy @strade_bianche Anna van der Breggen
A photo posted by @annavdbreggen on Mar 5, 2020 at 4:43am PST
UAE withdraws, GP Larciano cancelled
UAE Team Emirates, who have team members in quarantine in the UAE, have withdrawn from Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo.
Meanwhile, the GP Larciano – which was set to run on Sunday – has been cancelled, reports SpazioCiclismo. Authorities in Pistoia did not give permission to run the race, and organisers have said they will seek to reschedule.
Coronavirus: the European picture
Here's an update on the coronavirus situation around central Europe, pertaining to upcoming races.
Over 3,000 people have been infected in Italy, with the country's death toll rising to 107 on Wednesday. Infections have been reported in 19 of the country's 20 regions. Strade Bianche was cancelled earlier today, with more races expected to follow suit after a government decree called for a halt to all sporting events.
On Wednesday night, seven cases were reported in Wevelgem, where Gent-Wevelgem is set to finish on March 29.
The total number of reported cases in Belgium has reached 50, after 27 new cases were reported around the country on Thursday morning – 16 in Flanders, nine in Wallonia and two in Brussels. Those affected had returned from holiday in northern Italy, according to the country's public health department.
France's health authority reported 285 cases as of Wednesday afternoon. The worst-affected region with 65 cases is Hauts-de-France, where Paris-Roubaix is run. Ile-de-France, where Paris-Nice will start, has recorded 55 cases. The race will pass through Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, which has 49 confirmed cases, while Provence Alpes-Côte d'Azur, which will stage the final three stages, has 13 cases.
Spain has 259 confirmed cases across the country, with Catalunya the second worst-hit region after the capital Madrid. 26 cases have been discovered in Barcelona, including American tourists and a man who had travelled from Italy. The Volta a Catalunya runs from March 23-29.
The Basque Country, where Itzulia Basque Country and GP Miguel Indurain will take place next month, has seen 25 cases diagnosed, including 20 in Álava.
On Wednesday afternoon, Limburg's regional health service reported the region's first case of coronavirus in a man who had travelled to northern Italy. Amstel Gold Race will be held in Limburg on April 19. The total number of cases in country more than doubled to 82 on Thursday.
More teams pull out of Italian races
Both Team Sunweb and Jumbo-Visma have announced that they will withdraw from Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-Sanremo, with the Sunweb women's team pulling out of the Trofeo Alfredo Binda.
In light of the exceptional circumstances surrounding COVID-19, Team Sunweb withdraw both their Men's and Women's programs from the upcoming Italian races; Tirreno Adriatico, Milano Sanremo and Trofeo Alfredo Binda. More: https://t.co/3dmy1pALKI pic.twitter.com/L09UpuIImGMarch 5, 2020
Team Jumbo-Visma also skips Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-SanremoRead more⤵️March 5, 2020
Here's an updated look on which teams have withdrawn from which races (with Strade Bianche and GP Larciano both already cancelled).
AG2R La Mondiale: Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo
Astana Pro Team: Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico
EF Pro Cycling: Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo (requested withdrawal)
Jumbo-Visma: Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo
Mitchelton-Scott: Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, Trofeo Binda, Ronde van Drenthe, Nokere Koerse
Team Ineos: Paris-Nice, Tirreno, Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, Nokere Koerse, Bredene Koksijde Classic
Team Sunweb: Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, Trofeo Binda
UAE Team Emirates: Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo
CCC Team had a wasted trip to Italy, Simon Geschke notes on Twitter.
Well, that was a short trip to Italy. pic.twitter.com/rHNd9Gdw60March 5, 2020
Eight-rider teams for Paris-Nice
Deceuninck-QuickStep directeur sportif Wilfred Peeters has told Sporza that ASO, who organise Paris-Nice, will allow eight-rider rosters at next week's race.
The move is a response to the cancellation of Strade Bianche and a number of teams pulling out of Tirreno-Adriatico.
ASO are in contravention of UCI regulation 2.2.003 – see below here, though the UCI would no doubt have ok'ed the change due to the extraordinary circumstances of the past two days.
"Without prejudice to specific provisions of the UCI Regulations, the number of starting riders per team shall be set by the organiser, with a minimum of 4 and maximum of 7. The organiser shall indicate in the programme or technical guide and on the entry form the number of starting riders per team for the event. This number shall be the same for all teams.
"The number of starting riders who are registered on the entry form must be equal to the number set by the organiser. No account shall be taken of any riders entered in excess of that number.
"Special provisions for UCI WorldTour: In UCI WorldTour events, the number of starting riders per team is 8 for Grand Tours and 7 for other events."
Further news from Paris-Nice – Walloon broadcaster RTBF has reported that Circus-Wanty Gobert received an invitation from ASO following the withdrawals of Astana, Ineos and UAE Team Emirates.
The Italian Cycling Federation released a statement confirming the cancellation of GP Larciano.
"Despite the renunciation of some World Tour formations already regularly enrolled in the race, and despite the failure of the Strade Bianche in Siena, organisers were determined to go ahead if they had the necessary authorization from the local authorities, primarily the Prefecture of Pistoia.
"Unfortunately, as a result of the discussions, it was verified that the conditions did not exist to guarantee the provisions of the Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic of 4 March 2020. and therefore the race was cancelled."
CCC Team out of Paris-Nice
CCC Team have reportedly become the latest team to withdraw from Paris-Nice, according to Het Laatste Nieuws. The decision was taken by team doctors, who feared a potential quarantine ahead of the spring Classics.
Here's our story on the latest glut of news regarding Paris-Nice, which starts on Sunday.
In short: CCC are out, Bardet and Circus-Wanty Gobert are in, Deceuninck-QuickStep sub in several Classics riders, Landa is injured, and the race will have eight-man teams.
CCC confirm Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice withdrawal
CCC Team have confirmed their withdrawal from Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico.
"Without a detailed quarantine plan, and rapid testing protocol and delivery of results, teams are actively putting riders and staff at risk of exposure, transmission, and quarantine," said team doctor Max Testa.
"We also need to think about the risk of quarantine for our riders and staff when they return to their home countries from these races. For these reasons, we have decided to withdraw from Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico."
They become the tenth team to pull out of Tirreno-Adriatico, which is likely to be cancelled, and the fifth to pull out of Paris-Nice.
French newspaper Le Dauphiné libéré have reported that B&B Hotels-Vital Concept have also been extended an invitation to Paris-Nice, making that five teams out and two teams in so far.
Our news story on CCC Team becoming the latest to announce their withdrawal from the upcoming stage races, Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico.
19 teams and 8-man squads confirmed for Paris-Nice
The organisers of Paris-Nice have confirmed that the race will run with 19 teams on Sunday. Circus-Wanty Gobert and B&B Hotels-Vital Concept are invited, while the five teams who withdrew (Astana, CCC, Mitchelton-Scott, Ineos and UAE Team Emirates) are absent.
"The 78th edition of Paris-Nice, the holding of which was confirmed by the health authorities and the Ministry of Sports on Tuesday, March 3, will take place with a peloton of 19 teams," reads the press release.
"In this particular context, two additional invitations were granted to teams in the UCI Pro Teams category: B&B Hotels-Vital Concept and Circus-Wanty Gobert.
"After obtaining the agreement of the UCI and in consultation with the teams, the organizers have also decided to increase the number of riders per team from seven to eight."
⚠ 19 équipes attendues au départ de #ParisNice ⚠2⃣invitations supplémentaires ont été accordées à 🇧🇪@CircusWGT et 🇫🇷 @BBHotels_VC.🚴♂️ Avec l'accord de l'UCI, le nombre de coureurs par équipe est porté de 7 à 8. ➡ Plus d'infos : https://t.co/U0kcFNmAqC pic.twitter.com/c920Q063jbMarch 5, 2020
WorldTour squad go against grain of teams pulling out of races in face of Covid-19 outbreak
Circus-Wanty Gobert have released a statement regarding their, until today unexpected participation in Paris-Nice.
"We have been a candidate for Paris-Nice for several years now, because this competition fits perfectly in the preparation for the classics," said general manager Jean François Bourlart.
"The upheaval of the past days were not easy for anyone. We are therefore very happy to be able to add this competition to our program.
"I want to thank ASO for their confidence, and I am convinced that we are going there with a very competitive team in all areas. It is a true pleasure to discover this indispensable spring competition! Paris-Nice 2020 will undoubtedly be a key link in our start to the season."
Strade Bianche 🇮🇹 🔜 Paris-Nice 🇫🇷#AnythingCanHappen @Bourlart: 🎙 "The upheaval about the @StradeBianche wasn’t easy for anyone. We’re happy to add @ParisNice to our programme!"Statement last minute invite #ParisNice ⬇️📄 https://t.co/39AzWA3LoN pic.twitter.com/nn9UfC4Z4zMarch 5, 2020
Team withdrawal tracker
It has been a busy few days for news and announcements as the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak has forced changes to spring racing calendar, with a constant stream of teams pulling out of races.
So far ten men's teams and two women's teams have announced their withdrawal from various races, so we've created a page for you to keep track of them all. Click below to check it out.
CCC Team leader Greg Van Avermaet has told Het Laatste Nieuws that he's disappointed by not being able to race Strade Bianche or Tirreno-Adriatico after the cancellation of the former and his team withdrawing from the latter.
"I'm disappointed that we don't ride the races, but we have to take into account the health of the people," he said.
"At the moment, nothing has been decided yet about how my programme will look further in the preparation for the Flemish classics."
Flanders Classics boss: All races on as planned
Meanwhile, CEO of the Flanders Classics organisation Tomas Van Den Spiegel has said that all of the organisation's races are set to go ahead as planned.
"Concerning our upcoming Flanders Classics races starting March 29: we are in constant contact with the authorities," he said on Twitter.
"At this time the situation in Belgium is under control and there is no need for extra measures. So for now everything is on as planned.
"Nevertheless we are working on extra measures which will be put in place in any case that should provide a safe environment for all involved. Should the situation change, we will send updates ASAP."
Flanders Classics oversees the running of Gent-Wevelgem, Dwars door Vlaanderen, the Tour of Flanders, Scheldeprijs, and Brabantse Pijl, as well as last week's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, which was won by Jesper Stuyven.
On Wednesday, 27 new cases of the virus were discovered in Belgium, more than doubling the number of existing cases in the country. Currently, cases are spread around seven of Belgium's ten provinces, as well as the capital, Brussels.
Nevertheless we are working on extra measures which will be put in place in any case that should provide a safe environment for all involved. Should the situation change, we will send updates asap. (2/2)March 5, 2020
'The careers, health and safety of our riders and staff are the centre of our actions' says team owner Ronny Lauke
Jumbo-Visma, Team Sunweb and AG2R opt to cancel their Italian spring programmes
The race was initially scheduled to take place on March 22, but after an outbreak of the coronavirus in the Lombardy region and across other regions of Italy, organisers were forced to take swift action and move the race to a later date.
Bardet to race Paris-Nice in readiness for rest of season
As already reported, Romain Bardet will switch from racing Tirreno-Adriatico – which has not yet been announced as cancelled, but which his AG2R La Mondiale team will now not attend in light of the continuing coronavirus situation in Italy – to Paris-Nice, which starts on Sunday.
Team manager Vincent Lavenu has said that his rider "needs to race to prepare for his later goals", while Bardet said on his team's website that he'll go to the French stage race "with the intention of working for the overall success of the team".
Peter Sagan is among the eight riders named to Bora-Hansgrohe's revised team roster for Paris-Nice, which starts on Sunday. Sagan had been set to race Saturday's Strade Bianche, and he and his teammates were already training in Tuscany for the one-day Classic when RCS Sport announced on Thursday that it had cancelled the race due to the coronavirus crisis.
Movistar out of Paris-Nice
Movistar are the latest teams to remove themselves from racing over the next two weeks. Their men's and women's teams have withdrawn from all races until the week beginning March 22.
“The Blue outfit will not take the start of the following events: Paris-Nice (8-15), Tirreno-Adriatico (11-17), Ronde van Drenthe (WE, 15), Nokere Koerse (WE, 18), Milano-Sanremo (21) and Omloop van de Westhoek (WE, 22). The Trofeo Alfredo Binda, also scheduled for March 22nd, was postponed until June 2nd last night,” read a statement from Movistar on Friday morning.
“This choice, made after consideration of the advice given by the team doctors, takes into account of the current situation related to COVID-19. The Movistar Team, looking to preserve the health of all its members, as well as every person in touch with the sport of cycling, makes a decision which seeks to contribute, to the extent of its possibilities, to returning to a normal situation.”
Het Nieuwsblad reports that Deceuninck-QuickStep's Covid-19 precautions at Paris-Nice include cancelling their press race press conference and replacing it with a video conference. "We understand that this is not an ideal situation, but we count on your understanding during these special circumstances," said the team.
It means that six teams have now pulled out of Paris-Nice, following previous announcements from Ineos, Mitchelton-Scott, Astana, UAE Team Emirates and CCC Team. Tirreno-Adriatico has not yet been formally cancelled, but 11 WorldTour teams have now withdrawn from the race.
La Gazzetta dello Sport has reported this morning that riders and staff who were present at the UAE Tour, as well as those travelling from the Lombardy and Veneto regions of northern Italy, have been asked not to participate in Paris-Nice.
La Gazzetta outlines the effects of this measure on Trek-Segafredo, where manager Luca Guercilena and coach Paolo Slongo – residents of Milan and Treviso, respectively – will not attend Paris-Nice, while Giulio Ciccone will not compete as he rode the UAE Tour. We have contacted Paris-Nice organiser ASO to seek confirmation of its stance.
An ASO spokesperson has told Cyclingnews that the Paris-Nice organisation has not placed any restrictions on riders and staff present at the UAE Tour or resident in northern Italy, contrary to what is reported in La Gazzetta dello Sport. Therefore, riders who raced in the UAE, like Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), are permitted to compete in Paris-Nice, as are those travelling from Lombardy and the Veneto.
Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo officially postponed
RCS Sport has just confirmed that Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and the Giro di Sicilia have been postponed.
"Following the confirmation by the relevant authorities that they are unable to grant appropriate authorisations, RCS Sport announces that the cycling race Tirreno-Adriatico, scheduled for 11-17 March, is cancelled from its original dates," reads the statement.
"Furthermore, as the appropriate authorities have verified that suitable conditions do not exist for them to be unable to guarantee the provisions of the DPCM (Decreto del Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri della Repubblica Italiana – Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic) on 4 March 2020, and to guarantee the safeguarding of public health and the safety of all the people involved, RCS Sport has made the decision to cancel Milan-Sanremo, scheduled for 21 March, and Il Giro di Sicilia, scheduled for 1-4 April."
RCS Sport has added that it will seek replacement dates for the cancelled races later in the year: "RCS Sport will request the UCI, via the Italian Cycling Federation, to allocate new dates on the international cycling calendar for the three races, as has already been requested for Strade Bianche and Strade Bianche Women Elite."
Milan-San Remo has been held every year bar three since the inaugural edition in 1907. The was no race in 1916 due to World War I, and in 1944 and 1945 due to World War II. Indeed, the last time a Monument was cancelled was that 1945 Milan-San Remo, as the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Tour of Lombardy were all held that year.
You can read more about the postponement of Milan-San Remo, Tirreno-Adriatico and Giro di Sicilia in our news article.
RCS Sport will seek another date for its races later in the year from the UCI, though imagines much will depend on whether there are further race cancellations across Europe in the coming weeks. The 2020 calendar, of course, is already more congested than usual due to the Tokyo Olympics, with just four weeks between the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France rather than the usual five.
Following CCC Team's withdrawal from Paris-Nice and the since postponed Tirreno-Adriatico, Greg Van Avermaet will train in Sierra Nevada for the next two weeks as he prepares for the cobbled Classics. “It’s disappointing not to be racing at this point in the year before the main Classics but I respect the team’s decision and understand that our health is the most important thing," Van Avermaet said in a team statement.
"I think it’s the right decision when you look at the bigger picture and hopefully this kind of action means that the rest of the season can continue as planned. The plan is now that I will go and do an altitude camp for the next couple of weeks with a small group of teammates.
"My form was really good after my first altitude block at the start of the year so I think this will help my Classics preparation and allow me to stay fit and healthy up to my big goals. I think the situation will continue to change day by day so I hope to be back racing soon.”
Deceuninck-QuickStep have redeployed a number of their cobbled Classics riders from Tirreno-Adriatico to Paris-Nice, with Bob Jungels, Zdenek Stybar and Kasper Asgreen all set to line up in France. Remco Evenepoel, meanwhile, is likely to replace Tirreno-Adriatico with the Volta a Catalunya, according to La Dernière Heure.
Jumbo-Visma pulls out of Paris-Nice
Another team has withdrawn from Paris-Nice. Jumbo-Visma had been set to bring Wout van Aert to France, but the Dutch squad has now become the seventh WorldTour team to remove itself from the race.
"This hurts and is disappointing," Jumbo-Visma manager Richard Plugge said in a statement. “But this is the best decision we can make now. As management, we have the responsibility to weigh all risks carefully. They are now too large. " Riders and staff members who were to leave for the race responded with understanding and agreement.
“Cycling has a unique character and travel and staying in hotels is inherent to the sport. That makes us vulnerable in this corona crisis. The health of riders, staff and the public now deserve every priority, taking into account circumstances that may arise such as quarantine, illness or hospitalization."
Paris-Nice and the already cancelled Italian races are the only events Jumbo-Visma plans to skip for the time being, though the squad, notes that "other competitions are assessed on a case-by-case basis."
Read our story on Jumbo-Visma pulling out of Paris-Nice.
Jumbo-Visma stars Wout van Aert and George Bennett react to the team withdrawing from Paris-Nice.
Plan A :x: Plan B :x: Plan C ? :man-shrugging::skin-tone-3:I want to thank my team for this brave decision. Health and family comes first! https://t.co/a7nurrcyNXMarch 6, 2020
tough choices in crazy times. a huge amount of work went into this race as the first major goal of the year but the team has put rider welfare first. (hopefully) plenty more races to come. I'm glad they can think long term gains when I sometimes struggle to see past my nose. https://t.co/dbE2UzNszAMarch 6, 2020
The Dutch squad have joined the start list of the Ronde van Drenthe, along with Total Direct Énergie, reports RTV Drenthe.
Amid all the chaos, it's easy to forget that Paris-Nice is still going ahead, albeit without seven WorldTour teams. Find out how to watch the race, which start on Sunday in our guide.
Deceuninck-QuickStep have unveiled their Paris-Nice squad. The team made changes to their proposed lineup for the French race after the cancellation of Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico saw several riders facing a gap in their schedule ahead of the spring Classics.
Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne winner Kasper Asgreen was called up, along with Zdenek Štybar and Bob Jungels.
"While we understand why other teams have chosen not to race, we have decided that we will follow the guidelines set in place by the local authorities and the race organisers, and have faith in their assessment that it is safe for us to race," said team boss Patrick Lefevere.
"The health of our riders and staff is of course a priority and we will take all the necessary precautions to protect them, while still honouring our commitment to an important race."
Sunday we will be at the start of the 78th edition of #ParisNice. Discover our team and goals for the prestigious "Race to the Sun": https://t.co/kZFNEQtxZD pic.twitter.com/NBMMkkrAHiMarch 6, 2020
Mitchelton-Scott is set to launch an online racing series in order to "pay homage" to the cancelled Strade Bianche races.
The team pulled both men's and women's squads from racing until March 22 in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, and will launch the 'BikeExchange – Where the World Rides Series' on Zwift with a gravel ride at 11am CET on Sunday.
World champion Annemiek van Vleuten and men's team riders Simon Yates and Daryl Impey will take part in Sunday's ride.
🚨ANNOUNCEMENT🚨To pay homage to cancelled races we've teamed up with @bikeexchangeau and @GoZwift to launch the ‘BikeExchange – Where the World Rides Series'🏁Join your favourite Mitchelton-SCOTT riders for the first ride on Sunday! Full details⬇️https://t.co/qctexPqjN5March 6, 2020
It doesn't sound like Matteo Trentin and Wout van Aert have heard about the new online gravel race yet... The pair are on Twitter joking about some rather old-fashioned summer cyclo-cross racing, after their CCC and Jumbo-Visma teams pulled out of upcoming races, including Paris-Nice
Since I have 2 functional legs again, I am happy to give you that advantage and I accept the challenge 🤪 where do we meet?March 6, 2020
The Deceuninck-QuickStep team have named Julian Alaphilippe, Sam Bennett, Kasper Asgreen and Bob Jungels in their line-up for Paris-Nice, with team manager Patrick Lefevere saying he has faith in the belief of local authorities and race organisers that it is safe to race across France despite the spread of the coronavirus.
Nibali confirmed for Paris-Nice
Trek-Segafredo has confirmed Vincenzo Nibali's participation in Paris-Nice. The Italian was set to ride Tirreno-Adriatico but will now join Richie Porte in France.
Jasper Stuyven, world champion Mads Pedersen, Alex Kirsch, Ryan Mullen, and Edward Theuns make up the rest of the team.
"I decided with the team to be at Paris-Nice to keep the schedule leading up to the Giro d'Italia virtually unchanged," said Nibali in a team statement.
"At the moment, it's important to put kilometers and days of racing in the legs. Given the situation in Italy, the change of calendar was practically mandatory. I’m very sorry I can’t race in my country, and I hope that the situation will soon get better, regardless of the races."
Here's our story on Mitchelton-Scott's decision launch a virtual ride series amid coronavirus race cancellations
Velon has taken the decision to suspend Hammer Stavanger, which was due to be held on May 22-24. The organisation lay the blame at the door of the UCI, accusing the sport's governing body of "discrimination and anti-competitive behaviour."
Last October, Velon started a legal battle with UCI via a European Commission anti-trust complaint, claiming that the UCI hampered the development of its Hammer race series and tried to take control of on-bike rider data by changing the rules.
"The UCI prevented Hammer Stavanger from adding a women’s race with full parity of prize money, broadcast and race format to the men's race (while approving and moving other women’s races to overlap on the same weekend)," read a statement put out by the organisation. "These actions have made it impossible for Velon and its race organiser partners to successfully develop the Hammer Series and its races."
The decision is not related to the ongoing Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak in Europe.
Cycling's coronavirus crisis – Podcast featuring Vaughters and Matt White
We've recorded a podcast discussing the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak and its impact on racing in recent days.
We talk to EF Pro Cycling boss Jonathan Vaughters and Mitchelton-Scott directeur sportif Matt White about the ever-evolving situation, as well as the health implications and logistical stresses associated with the outbreak.
We also talked to European Editor Stephen Farrand about the impact on the Italian race scene, as well as Sophie Smith, who was at the UAE Tour, who spoke about the dramatic situation that unfolded there.
Unrelated to the coronavirus crisis, some further news on Nicolas Portal, who passed away on Tuesday.
Earlier on Friday it was announced that his funeral would be held near Toulouse on Monday, March 9. The Team Ineos directeur sportif died at the age of 40 after suffering a heart attack at his home in Andorra.
Stars head to Paris-Nice after Tirreno-Adriatico cancellation
A number of riders have been forced to change their plans and head to Paris-Nice after Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo were cancelled.
We've got all the latest on the changes. Just click below to read what the teams and riders have been saying.
Vincenzo Nibali will start there with Trek-Segafredo, Romain Bardet has been called up by AG2R La Mondiale, Belgian squad Deceuninck-QuickStep have tweaked their roster to get their Classics men more race time, and Bora-Hansgrohe's Peter Sagan had trained for Strade Bianche in Tuscany but will now race in France.
Our Paris-Nice preview is up. Click here to check out information the riders who will take part and the route they'll be racing on until next Sunday.
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