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Coronavirus: ASO and teams make Paris-Nice adjustments after Italian race cancellations

NICE FRANCE MARCH 17 Wilco Kelderman of Netherlands and Team Sunweb Patrick Konrad of Austria and Team BoraHansgrohe Ilnur Zakarin of Russia and Team Katusha Alpecin Manuel Amaro Antunes of Portugal and CCC Team Quentin Pacher of France and Team Vital Concept BB Hotels Hector Carretero of Spain and Movistar Team Dylan Teuns of Belgium and Team Bahrain Merida dLandscape Mountains Landscape during the 77th Paris Nice 2019 Stage 8 a 110km stage from Nice to Nice PN ParisNice on March 17 2019 in Nice France Photo by Justin SetterfieldGetty Images
The peloton tackle a descent on the final stage of the 2019 edition of Paris-Nice (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Several teams, as well as race organisers ASO, have acted quickly to adjust their plans for Paris-Nice following the cancellation of several Italian races due to the Covid-19 coronavirus on Thursday.

RCS Sport decided to cancel both of Saturday's Strade Bianche races after the Italian government suspended sporting events, while GP Larciano organisers cancelled Sunday's race.

ASO have responded to the news by adjusting roster sizes from the race to allow teams to field an extra rider. After five teams (Astana, CCC Team, Mitchelton-Scott, Team Ineos and UAE Team Emirates) withdrew from the race, ASO extended invitations Circus-Wanty Gobert and B&B Hotels-Vital Concept.

"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," read a statement from race organisers.

"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 International Cycling Union (UCI) and in consultation with the teams, the organizers have also decided to increase the number of riders per team from seven to eight."

French squad AG2R La Mondiale have switched up Romain Bardet's spring calendar to send him to the race. The team pulled out of Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo – races which now look set to be cancelled in any case – and he will now take the start of Paris-Nice on Sunday.

"Romain needs to race to prepare for his later goals," AG2R boss Vincent Lavenu told L'Equipe.

"Everything suggests that the races will be cancelled, but they haven't yet been confirmed," he said of the Italian races.

Deceuninck-QuickStep also responded to the unfolding situation in Italy, making three adjustments to their roster for Paris-Nice, which gets underway on Sunday. 

"Our selection for Paris-Nice is being changed," Peeters told Sporza. "The riders for the Classics have been given priority.

"Zdenek Štybar, Kasper Asgreen and Bob Jungels will join the team; Dries Devenyns, Rémi Cavagna and Tim Declerq fall out of the team. We can prepare them in other competitions, such as the GP Monseré on Sunday."

Peeters went on to say that some riders wanted to head to Spain for a training camp but noted that the team will attempt to make up for the lost race days.

"Some riders now want to go on a training camp to Spain, but we have also put the GP Denain on the programme. We'll adjust our selections. Riders such as Florian Sénéchal and Tim Declerq will certainly be riding the GP Monseré. 

Wielerflits reported that Bora-Hansgrohe have joined the start list at the 1.1-ranked one-day race, set to be held on Sunday, with organisers stating that there are places available for further teams. 

In coronavirus-unrelated news, Bahrain McLaren's Mikel Landa has been forced to pull out of Paris-Nice. After being hit by a car while training in early February, the Spaniard suffered a cracked rib, which has yet to fully heal.

"The persistence of stress pain caused by last month's road accident requires Mikel to have a less physically demanding schedule over the next two weeks," said team doctor Carlo Guardascione.