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RCS Sport cancels Strade Bianche in light of coronavirus measures

The 2019 Strade Bianche
The 2019 Strade Bianche (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The Strade Bianche men's and women's races have been cancelled after a meeting between local authorities in Siena and race organiser RCS Sport on Thursday morning.

RCS Sport has communicated to the teams that the races will not take place on Saturday, citing the decree announced by the Italian government on Wednesday evening, which banned all sporting events that could not be held behind closed doors as part of its efforts to protect the wider public health. 

"We are sad to announce that Strade Bianche will not be disputed, after last night's decree law was made a last meeting with the authorities and the impossibility to start the race emerged," RCS Sport said in the letter sent to the teams and obtained by Cyclingnews.

"Due to the coronavirus emergency Italian authorities blocked the organization. Please advise all your staff and riders."

In a statement issued after the meeting at the Prefecture of Siena with the mayor of Siena, RCS Sport accepted that, "there are no conditions for guaranteeing the provisions of the DPCM (Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic)."

The organisers therefore stated that they, "agreed with the appropriate authorities to cancel the two cycling races scheduled for Saturday 7 March: Strade Bianche and Strade Bianche Women Elite."

No decision has yet been made for Tirreno-Adriatico, which is due to start on Wednesday on the Tuscan coast and cross central Italy, nor for Milan-San Remo, which is scheduled for Saturday March 21.  

"Until 7pm yesterday, we were convinced we could do it. Then the decree arrived, and RCS explained a series of sanitary difficulties that forced us to take this decision, even if everyone wanted the races to go ahead," the Major of Siena Luigi De Mossi told local media. 

"We're convinced the event has only been postponed, not completely cancelled."

RCS Sport has already indicated the March races could be held in June after the Giro d'Italia or in September and have reportedly asked the UCI for a new date for Strade Bianche. 

Several teams had already said they would not race in Italy, while others had arrived in Tuscany to prepare on the dirt roads before Saturday's race. Now all the peloton faces decisions about whether to ride Paris-Nice and which riders get to compete in the French stage race.