Despite concerns about the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19 across Europe, Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo are set to go ahead as planned in Italy, with the team sent a confirmation by race organiser RCS Sport.
Both the men's and Women's Strade Bianche race are scheduled for Saturday March 7, with Tirreno-Adriatico due to be held between the Tuscan and Adriatic coasts from March 11-17. Milan-San Remo is scheduled for 21 March.
Team usually travel to Siena on Wednesday or Thursday to recon the dirt roads of the route and prepare for Strade Bianche. Teams needed the information to allow staff and vehicles to set off from their service course in Belgium, Spain and France.
Paris-Nice is also expected to be held as planned despite France banning public gatherings of more than five thousand people in confined spaces.
Italy has been hit by two major clusters of the coronavirus in the Lombardy region southwest of Milan and in the Veneto region near Padova in recent weeks, with over 1500 people testing positive for the virus. 639 people are currently in hospital, with 140 in intensive care. There have been 41 deaths, mostly amongst elderly patients who were suffering with other conditions.
A number of countries have warned against travelling to northern Italy but the number of isolated cases of coronavirus in Tuscany remain at 13. Italian authorities have allowed major sporting events in Italy, apart from in the northern Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna regions, where Serie A football matches have been cancelled to avoid holding them behind closed doors. Those rules could be lifted or modified next Sunday in time to allow Milan-San Remo to start in the city centre.
According to reports in Belgium, RCS Sport confirmed their plans to put on the races in an email sent out to teams via email on Monday morning. RCS Sport added a caveat that the situation could still change, with local Italian health authorities and the Italian government responsible for any final decision.
Most of the Lombardy-based RCS Sport staff were blocked in the United Arab Emirates until today due to the coronavirus scare that forced the Abu Dhabi sports Council to cancel the final two stage of the UAE Tour.
Much of the race caravan, plus 16 teams, have been allowed to leave after several days of enforced quarantine and coronavirus tests. However the Gazprom-RusVelo, Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ teams are still stuck in their hotel after the suspicion of other positive cases. They are awaiting the final results of the tests.
Only the UAE Team Emirates squad has opted to stay in the UAE and continue testing after revealing they had some known cases of flu within their group and other teams. They said they will be tested again in the next few days and "once the situation has improved, riders and staff will return to their families."
Teams have still to confirm their squads for the Italian races but Peter Sagan was due to return to racing at Strade Bianche alongside Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Ineos) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).
Remco Evenepoel was due to lead Deceuninck-QuickStep at Tirreno-Adriatico, with Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos), Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) and Greg van Avermaet (CCC Team) also starring.
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