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Bahrain-McLaren pull out of Paris-Nice over coronavirus concerns

The riders line-up for stage 5 in Gannat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Bahrain McLaren team will not start stage 6 of Paris-Nice due to growing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19 in France.  

A member of staff at Bora-Hansgrohe was taken to hospital by an ambulance late on Thursday evening but was later released, with French doctors believing his symptoms did not indicate he had the coronavirus. 

"During the night, one of our employees displayed symptoms of a cold," Bora-Hansgrohe confirmed. 

"According to the authorities, no further measures are necessary. The team has nevertheless decided to isolate the employee, as a precautionary step, and to continue actively monitoring the situation in order ensure maximum safety for all concerned."

With more and more European countries taking strict measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, teams are no longer willing to stay at Paris-Nice and continue racing. Most other sports in France have already suspended all activity.

On Thursday evening French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to the nation, announcing the close of schools and limiting public movement to try to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.   

Race organiser ASO announced late on Friday morning that Paris-Nice would end on Saturday after stage 7 from Nice to Valdeblore-La Colmiane.

"The decision, made in the context of the reinforced fight against the propagation of the coronavirus epidemic, cancels the final stage originally scheduled to take place around Nice on Sunday," ASO said. 

Bahrain McLaren were the first team to say they would no longer race at Paris-Nice, before ASO's decision to cut the final stage, after a tense night of talks between teams, riders and organizers.

According to Het Nieuwsblad, the CPA riders association expressed their concerns about continuing to race and the problems of riders and team staff returning home. 

11 teams apparently voted to continue, five voted against but it is not clear if they will race on. A compromised was eventually reached, with a decision to conclude the race Saturday, avoiding Sunday's final stage around Nice. 

"Team Bahrain McLaren has with regret today withdrawn from the 2020 Paris-Nice road race," the team said.

"Following consultation with the team’s riders, medical staff and other stakeholders, and in light of the rapidly escalating public health risks associated with the Covid-19 virus, the decision has been taken to repatriate all team personnel to their homes as soon as possible. Rolling restrictions on movement across Europe and the health of the entire team mean this precautionary measure is an immediate priority."

"Team Bahrain McLaren wishes to thank the UCI, the ASO, the AIGCP and its competitor teams for their understanding and support at this time. The team extends its appreciation to its partners and the many thousands of passionate fans and communities that have supported all of the riders throughout this great race."