Bucking the trend of teams pulling out of races in reaction to the coronavirus [Covid-19] outbreak around the globe, Israel Start-Up Nation vowed Thursday to participate in any races that live up to safety standards set by local health authorities, race organisers and the UCI.
In a statement sent to media, Israel Start-Up Nation said owners and staff consulted with team doctors before reaching the decision and setting guidelines for racing while the world faces the spread of coronavirus.
The first-year WorldTour team will take part in the upcoming Paris-Nice, which starts Sunday. Two other races scheduled for this weekend in Italy, Strade Bianche and GP Industria, were cancelled by the organisers. The team also said they plan to participate in Tirreno-Adriatico March 11-17 if the Italian race takes place and if it satisfies all guidelines by local authorities and the team's medical staff.
"We have concluded that as long as we can ensure that races can be held safely, following all advice and approvals by local health authorities, the UCI and organisers, our team will continue racing fully motivated," said team manager Kjell Carlstrom.
"As long as we are satisfied that measures are taken to protect the health of our riders and staff, as well as the public health in those races, we will be there," he said.
Although the team is willing to race in the current conditions, they have given all the riders personal say in whether they want to race. Participation for riders and staff is is 100 per cent voluntary, according to the team.
"Anyone and everyone in the team can tell us if he or she is not comfortable to go to a certain race, and we will totally respect that decision," Carlstrom said.
So far, Astana, Mitchelton-Scott, Team Ineos, CCC Team and UAE Team Emirates have withdrawn from Paris-Nice, which expanded team size to eight riders given the lack of race opportunities elsewhere. Belgian ProTeam Circus-Wanty Gobert have reportedly been invited to the race to help fill the peloton.
Although race organisers RCS Sport was forced to cancel its races this weekend, no decision has yet been made for Tirreno-Adriatico, which is due to start on Wednesday on the Tuscan coast and cross central Italy, nor for Milan-San Remo, which is scheduled for Saturday, March 21.