Astana Pro Team have become the latest squad to withdraw from racing as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. In a statement on Thursday morning, the Kazakhstani team announced that they will not participate in any races for the next 15 days, 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," general manager Alexandre Vinokourov said.
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"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."
Mitchelton-Scott has already withdrawn its men's and women's teams from all racing until March 22 due to its concerns about the spread of Covid-19. Team Ineos announced on Wednesday that they will not compete again until the Volta a Catalunya, which gets underway on March 23, in the wake of the tragic death of Nicolas Portal and in light of the Covid-19 outbreak in Europe.
Jumbo-Visma and Groupama-FDJ have pulled out of this weekend's Strade Bianche and GP Larciano in Italy, while EF Pro Cycling have requested to withdraw from Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo.
Women's teams CCC-Liv and Parkhotel Valkenburg have pulled out of Strade Bianche Women.
Doctors from a number of other teams – CCC, Sunweb, Israel Start-Up Nation, Cofidis, Lotto Soudal, Movistar, Alpecin-Fenix, Rally Cycling and Total Direct Énergie – have also written to the UCI and race organisers ASO and RCS seeking the cancellation of both Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico.
On Wednesday, the Italian government announced that all sporting and public events have been suspended until April 3. While football matches will proceed behind closed doors, it is likely that bike races will not take place, though RCS Sport has yet to make a decision on this week's Strade Bianche, with an announcement expected on Thursday.
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