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Coronavirus: Nibali, Viviani and Trentin call on Italian cyclists to stay home and stay safe

The Italian flag flies at the start of Milan-San Remo
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Vincenzo Nibali, Elia Viviani and Matteo Trentin have called on Italian cyclists to stay at home during the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic so as not cause extra burden on the Italian health system.

10,149 people have now tested positive for the coronavirus, 5,038 are in hospital and 577 are in intensive care on life support. 1004 have recovered but 631, largely elderly people, have died. 

Under the latest decree announced by the Italian government, people are advised to stay at home, with travel allowed only for essential work, for health reasons and for food shopping near home.

Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, Trofeo Alfredo Binda and other races were all postponed last week and all sport has now been suspended until at least April 4. Gyms are closed and only professional and Olympic athletes are allowed to train behind closed doors or alone.

The decree allows for people to practice sport in parks but they must stay at least a metre away from other people. Some people took that to mean they could ride on public roads and many were seen riding early this week. However the Italian Cycling Federation and the Italian Professional Riders Association have called for cyclists to simply stay at home.

Nibali is riding Paris-Nice but joined a campaign on social media called #Distantmauniti (Distant but united) to respect the one-metre distance decree put in place to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus in shops and public areas.

"I can only hope that the situation improves and that can we can soon return to normality. I call on everyone to respect the directives from the authorities: Act responsibly for your own good and everybody's good. #Distantmauniti. Everything will work out: we have believe it."

Viviani is also at Paris-Nice and tried to encourage his fellow Italians.

"It's difficult, if not impossible, to stay focused on a race when my nation is going through a really difficult moment with drastic decisions needed to hope the spread of the serious problems,' Viviani wrote on social media.

"My thoughts go to who are suffering and who are working hard every day to fight the Covid-19 virus. As an Italian I'm sure we'll be able to get through this. Forza Italia!" 

Trentin is currently not racing after his CCC Team opted not to race until later in March. He is based in Monaco but pleaded with cyclists in Italy to stay at home.

"Stop for a second. You'll have time to go riding in the months to come. Lets not risk occupying a hospital bed that is needed by others at the moment. Lets hope these sacrifices will lead to a better future with more respect, more cycling and better health! #staysafe."