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Giro d'Italia director: We've got to try and save something

(Image credit: Future)

The news of a further delay of the publication of a possible autumn race calendar has left Giro d'Italia race director Mauro Vegni fighting to stay optimistic as doubts over major sporting events in Europe grow. Countries have made tentative plans to emerge from lockdown as the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic slows but mass sporting events are not the highest priority.

"It's a very complex situation and I think we'll only know more in a week or so," Vegni told Tuttobiciweb.

"I'm trying to stay optimistic, we've got to be, even if it's a very complex situation, but we've got to try and save something. We'll see how many races and which ones."

The veteran race organiser has spent the last few weeks fighting to save the Giro d'Italia and the other major races in RCS Sport's portfolio as Italy and the rest of the world remained locked down to slow the spread of COVID-19. He has apparently ensured the Giro d'Italia will remain a three-week race, with dates pencilled in for October 3-25, while Strade Bianche is provisionally set for August 1, Milan-San Remo for August 8 and Il Lombardia for October 31.

The Vuelta a España on Wednesday announced it would abandon a planned start in the Netherlands and reduce the race to the remaining 18 stages starting in the Basque Country.

The UCI was expected to confirm the dates for the RCS Sport events and others on Wednesday but held off announcing any dates after French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe banned all mass sporting events until September and warned of a very gradual end to the France's strict COVID-19 lockdown. 

The Tour de France has been postponed from July to August 29-Sept 20 but even those dates and especially the Grand Depart in Nice now at risk, with the race likely to be held under strict rules to protect public health or possibly cancelled all together.

"The French Prime Minister's declarations were very blunt and the UCI is obliged to verify the real situation in each country because they will all adopt their own specific decisions," Vegni said.

"The measures recently taken by some European governments concerning the restriction of mass sporting events, as our Federation once again recently underlined, must be taken into consideration when establishing the UCI International Calendar for the recommencement of cycling competitions," the UCI announced.

Vegni has taken part in all the conference calls, discussions and arguments about the new race calendar, even accusing his rivals of trying to damage the Giro d'Italia. Speaking to Tuttobiciweb, Vegni tried to stay optimistic about the fate of men's professional road face later this year but seems resigned that few, if any races, will be held in 2020.

"There's not much we can do but wait and see," Vegni said.