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Bradley Wiggins: Coronavirus could be devastating for riders' livelihoods

Bradley Wiggins on duty for Eurosport at the 2019 Tour de France
Bradley Wiggins on duty for Eurosport at the 2019 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

While Bradley Wiggins admits that "it's only sport", the 2012 Tour de France winner also says that the ongoing coronavirus crisis could begin to affect riders' livelihoods.

Talking on the first episode of the new season of Eurosport podcast The Bradley Wiggins Show, Wiggins said that the cancellation and postponement of most upcoming professional cycling races was "the least important thing compared to other things in life", but that riders' winter training for their various goals was in danger of being wasted.

"If something like the Tour de France was to go [be cancelled] at the expense of the virus, it would be a great shame for the riders considering the amount of work they have put in," the now-retired rider said.

"This is their livelihoods. We keep saying it's only sport, but, for these guys, with the financial implications for the sponsors and the teams, this could be devastating for them."

Wiggins also questioned whether Paris-Nice, which finished after stage 7 on Saturday, rather than running all the way to Nice on Sunday, should have been run at all.

"It [coronavirus crisis] has escalated every day, and it got to a point where they had to cancel the last stage of Paris-Nice. It did seem odd that, with everything going on at the moment, with the crisis in Italy, we were going very close to there in Nice with a massive bike race almost celebrating that, when it was getting very serious all around us.

"There is no toilet roll anymore, no paracetamol… You see the Premier League [football] is going [postponed], and those things, and you wonder why Paris-Nice ever went ahead, really, when we'd already lost Tirreno-Adriatico and some of the teams racing."

Wiggins also revealed that he'd recently spoken to his former Team Sky teammate Mark Cavendish, who has this year joined Bahrain McLaren and for whom this season was set to be key after a barren past couple of years, win-wise, due to having had the Epstein-Barr virus.

"I spoke to Cav last week, and he was just about to travel down to Nice to do some training down there," said Wiggins. "He'd been training quite hard in preparation for this season, as we know how big of a year this was going to be for him, coming back with Bahrain and really wanting to make a point, make a statement.

"It's frustrating from an athletic point of view for the likes of Cav, because this was a big, big year for him, and of course we all know what his race is – the Tour de France – coming back this year after not making the squad last year.

"So from a personal sporting aspect for someone like Mark Cavendish, it's going to be a shame if something like this disrupts his opportunity," said Wiggins.