The Giro d'Italia plans to oblige stage finish spectators to wear wristbands that emit a sound when social distancing is breached as part of a series of measures and protocols to secure the go-ahead for the three-week Grand Tour from the Italian government.
The Giro d'Italia is traditionally held in May but the COVID-19 pandemic forced organiser RCS Sport to postpone the race until October, after the Tour de France. The race will start from Sicily instead of Hungary on October 3 and follow much of the original route with new stages in Palermo, Basilicata and Abruzzo replacing those scheduled for Hungary. The Giro d'Italia will end in Milan, one of the regions hardest hit regions by COVID-19 on Sunday October 25.
Race director Mauro Vegni has the support of the Italian government, who see the Giro d'Italia as a symbol of the country's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. However Vegni is aware the race will be held with a series of limitations in order to protect the health of the riders and wider public.
"Things could change either way but if things are looking good in July, the Giro will be held like it always is; if things take a turn for the worse, then it'll be worrying and the Giro could be at risk, like everything else would be," Vegni said during an interview with the Abruzzian Tele8 television channel on Tuesday evening.
"We're working on a protocol. It'll be divided into different areas, which we will manage and then out on the road. We can't control the roads; we have to put our trust in people's good behaviour. At finishes we'll probably give the public a wristband that lets out a noise when people don’t respect social distancing, registering who they come into contact with. There will be serious investments to ensure distancing.
"It's difficult there'll be a publicity caravan but we can only hope the data improves and things change. We're concerned about the idea because it can spark crowds. We're studying things with the sponsors to understand what to do."
RCS will also organise its series of Classics, including Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo and Il Lombardia in August and Tirreno-Adriatico in September but these are less of a concern, with crowds expected to far less than at the Giro d'Italia. Any rules and protocol can change, based on the current COVID-19 situation.
"I think the data we see in mid-July will be important. If the regions can keep the number of virus cases down, they will open up more. Obviously, Lombardy is the worst off but apart from the one-day races in August, the Giro goes through Lombardy at the end of October," Vegni said.
"It was difficult to create a new race calendar and we squeezed nine months into three. There was a fight for dates due to the different dates of the other countries bur for me it was important to start again. Everyone will ride the races they want to ride. We wanted to send an important message that Italy is back."
The new route of the Giro d'Italia is expected to be revealed in early July, with a short time trial in Palermo replacing the one planned in Budapest. The race will then cross Sicily and climb north via the Adriatic coast, with the final mountain stages in the Alps before a time trial to Milan decided the overall winner.
Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), 2019 winner Richard Carapaz (Team Ineos), Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) have all confirmed they will ride the Giro d'Italia.
Cyclingnews will have full coverage of the Giro d'Italia (October 5-29).
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