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RCS Sport admit Italian races could be cancelled due to risks of coronavirus

The 2019 Strade Bianche
A key moment from the 2019 Strade Bianche (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Mauro Vegni, the race director of Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo has admitted the races will be cancelled or moved to June or September if the Italian government approves new, more stringent measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus across Italy.

On Monday RCS Sport informed the teams that the races would go ahead. However the teams and their medical staff have since questioned the logic of racing in Italy while the coronavirus continues to spread across the country and across Europe.

The Italian government is currently studying further drastic measures that could close all Italian schools for at least two weeks, stop all sport and public events where people unable to stand at least a metre apart and call on older people to stay indoors and to limit physical contact.

Football matches could be played without crowds, but the nature of road racing means it is virtually impossible to limit contact with the public and amongst race staff.

"We're close to the dates for three big races: Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo and as we said a few days ago, our intention is to put on the races and so put on a show for the fans," Vegni told Tuttobiciweb on Wednesday.

"However the news about the coronavirus that is emerging is clear: The indications from the (Italian) Scientific Committee leave little space for manoeuvre and if they are adopted by the government, we'll be forced to cancel the three races."   

Vegni indicated that the races could be held on a later date in the 2020 season rather than cancelled from the calendar altogether.   

"We intend to work alongside the UCI to find new slots in the calendar for these races, which we absolutely don’t want to lose," Vegni said.

"We've got an alternative plan so the races aren't lost. They could be held after the Giro d'Italia in June or even in September," Vegni told the Adnkronos news agency.

Italian authorities confirmed on Tuesday evening that the number of positive tests for the coronavirus has risen to 2263, with 79 deaths and 229 people in intensive care, while 160 people have fully recovered from the virus. 88 percent of the cases are in the northern Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna regions but further isolated cases are being discovered across Italy hour by hour.

Vegni and many of the RCS Sport race staff reside in northern Italy. They travelled back from the UAE Tour on Monday after testing negative for the coronavirus there and are apparently ready to organise the race despite the fears of the teams and riders.

However, the decision of the Italian government will ultimately decide if the March races in Italy, which include several others besides the RCS Sport lineup, will go ahead.