Coronavirus restrictions stops Spanish riders training, sparks abuse of Italian riders outdoors

The WorldTour peloton
The WorldTour peloton (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The restrictions on movement across Europe to reduce the spread of the coronavirus has sparked different effects on professional riders, with Spaniards ordered to stay at home, while Italian professionals and Olympic athletes can train alone if they are carrying a self-certifying letter to justify why they are outdoors.

However some Italian riders have faced verbal abuse from uninformed members of the public, who thought they were not respecting the strict decree on movement.

Some recreational cyclists have tried to go on rides but on Sunday, a group in Cesena near the Romagna coast was fined, and others were stopped and ordered to stay at home. 

The Italian decree doesn't stop isolated outdoor physical activity, but cycling for sport or fitness reasons is widely discouraged to avoid the risk of crashes and injury that can use up vital medical resources.

"To the person who drove within a few centimetres on the open road and insulted me that I wasn't out enjoying myself, I was just doing my job," Filippo Fiorelli of the Bardiani-CSF team wrote on Facebook.

"The written decree is clear: Professionals can go out training, so before you do anything stupid and put us in hospital, read the decree and learn!"

Spanish cyclists risk fines of €500-€3000

Spain ordered an initial two-week state of alarm over the weekend that ordered the general public to stay at home to try to contain the spread of coronavirus after a rapid increase in the number of Covid-19 positive cases and deaths. The only reasons people are allowed leave home are for essential work, to buy food locally, for medical needs or to care for the elderly or others in need. Like in a growing number of European countries, schools, bars, restaurants, parks and non-essential shops are closed.

The Spanish Sports Council confirmed the lockdown also includes a ban on riding bikes, with some cyclists stopped and fined on Sunday. Fines can range from €500-€3000 for unnecessarily being outdoors.

Carlos Mascias, a medical director from Madrid and keen cyclist, posted a message on the Twitter account of the Vuelta a España explaining the risks of cycling during the coronavirus crisis after he saw a number of cyclists out on the roads. 

"Stay at home and put the bike aside,” Mascias said pleaded. "If any cyclist suffers an incident and needs an ambulance or a bed in intensive care, we are taking it away from people who truly need it, who are now arriving en masse to hospitals.

"If something happens to you now, maybe you have a chance [to get treatment], but you will be taking it away from someone else — but in 48 hours, if something happens to you, the one who is left without [intensive care] might be you, those who are now riding your bikes. Please, park the bike and stay at home."

Enric Mas, a Spanish pro with Movistar who lives in Andorra, posted a photo on his Instagram account with the refrain, “#mequedoencasa” — I am staying at home. However, other riders wanted clarification on if they can train like the Italian professionals, because training is part of their job.

The Association of Spanish Professional Cyclists believes the decree allows their members to train outdoors but doubts remain. Gorka Izagirre of Astana explained the problem to Basque media.   

"We've been in contact with the ACP and from what we've been told we can go out because it's our profession. But we don’t have any official document that guarantees us anything," he is reported as saying.

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Stephen Farrand
Head of News

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.