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Coronavirus has me worried over Milan-San Remo, says Vegni

Mauro Vegni organises a number of big races in Italy (Image credit: Getty Images)

Mauro Vegni, head of the race organisation for Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo, Tirreno-Adriatico, and the Giro d’Italia, has expressed his concern over the recent spike in coronavirus cases in Italy.

Over the last few days, small pockets of Italy - mainly around Lombardy - have been put on lockdown after the nation saw diagnosed cases rise from just a handful to well over 250.

Italy now has more cases outside of China and South Korea than another other nation, including Japan and Singapore. So far, the virus has led to 2,619 deaths, with over 79,000 reported cases.

The bulk of RCS Sport's races take place over the next few months, with Strade Bianche in less than a fortnight. Tirreno and Milan-San Remo follow suit before the Giro in May.

According to Vegni, he is more concerned over the future of Milan-San Remo due to the fact that it takes place closest to Italy’s main area of coronavirus cases.

"Like everyone, we are concerned by what’s happening. At the same time, we hope that, with time, the situation will improve and that the number of cases will not increase," Vegni told Cyclingnews at the UAE Tour – another one of RCS’s races.

"The deciding factor will be the number of cases and if the situation is under control. We also have to factor in geography. At this moment, in Tuscany, where Strade Bianche is held, seems okay. At this moment I don’t think that there’s a problem but we will monitor it."

Last weekend saw a number of Italian soccer games postponed as a result of the recent spike in cases. The Venice Carnival was also affected.

"Milan-San Remo is the one that worries me the most," Vegni said. 

"Milan is one of the two key places that has recorded the most number of cases to date. But we will follow all the guidelines from the government and the ministry of public health. For Tirreno, it’s in a different place. It’s not like Venice or Milan but what concerns me the most is around Milan because of the Lombardy situation."

While the public health risk is the most obvious concern, another issue could be the economic affect of cancelling races. That being said, Vegni ruled out the idea of Milan-San Remo having its route changed if Milan was put under further strain.

"At the moment, there’s no plan B for Milan-San Remo. It would make no sense to cut three quarters of the race. We can only follow the lead  from the government. We still have three weeks until Milan-San Remo."

Surprisingly RCS Sport later seemed to contradict Vegni in a brief official statement, indicating they are open to all possible options. 

"Regarding the three spring bike races – Strade-Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-Sanremo – RCS Sport reiterates that it is working hard to ensure the smooth running of these events," the official statement said.

"To this end, RCS Sport is in constant contact with the appropriate authorities and, in partnership with them, will assess taking all the most suitable measures for carrying out the sporting events."

In cycling, so far coronavirus has caused the postponement of the Tour of Hainan, while two Chinese teams withdrew from the Tour de Langkawi. Last week, the UCI stepped in and postponed all races in China in April and May, as well as stating it will monitor the health of riders and staff from 'delegations at risk' travelling to international competitions.