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Rolling report: Impact of coronavirus on pro racing

LATEST: Amstel Gold postponed, Tour of Flanders postponed, Paris-Roubaix postponed, Fleche-Wallone postponed, Liege-Bastogne-Liege postponed, Giro d'Italia postponed.

With the impact of coronavirus on pro cycling rapidly escalating, this will be your go-to guide for all the most important updates on the situation.

March 19, 8:10 a.m. (MT): USA Cycling extends suspension of permitting and sanctioning

USA Cycling has announced that it will extend its suspension of all issued permits for sanctioned events — including USA Cycling races, rides, camps, and clinics — through May 3, 2020.

March 18, 12:35 p.m. (MT): Israel Start-Up Nation hosts virtual ride

Israel Start-Up Nation is organizing a virtual team ride featuring André Greipel, Guy Sagiv and Alex Dowsett and others via Zwift on Friday at 20:25 CET.
“Having group rides in uncertain times like these, with the COCID-19 crisis, is a great way for cyclists who love our team,” said Sagiv, currently confined to his home in Girona. “It is important to stay home to fight the virus, and ISN/ICA want to give everyone the opportunity to keep enjoying riding bikes.” The team will be raffling jerseys following ISN/ICA’s event on the team’s Facebook account.

March 18, 5:15 a.m. (MT): Amstel Gold race postponed

Race director Leo van Vliet said “We have no other choice. The Amstel Gold Race comes too early [after the quarantine] to ensure [this year’s] edition without problems.” Race organizers said they are hopeful in trying to find a new date compatible with the International Cycling Union (UCI), although reprogramming for this year seems “uncertain”.

March 17, 2:50 p.m. (MT): Tour of Flanders postponed

New measures imposed by the Belgian federal government prevent race organizers from hosting the Tour of Flanders on April 5.

March 17, 11:45 a.m. (MT): Paris-Roubaix, Flèche Wallonne (men & women), and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (men & women) postponed indefinitely

Race organizers maintain that they are working with the UCI to find alternate dates for these pro cycling races in the 2020 calendar.

March 16, 11:35 a.m. (MT): 2020 Tour of Basque Country canceled

The Tour of the Basque Country, originally scheduled for April 6-11, will be postponed. Race officials plan on working with the UCI to find an appropriate date in 2020. Julián Eraso, president of the OCETA which manages the race, states that, “the Itzulia Basque Country organization has done everything possible to keep the race as scheduled. However, given the serious situation we are experiencing and the latest events, we felt that the most responsible thing to do was to postpone the event to ensure the safety of all race participants, fans and society in general. Safety and responsibility are above all else.”

March 16, 9:25 a.m. (MT): 2020 Tour of Romandie canceled

The Tour de Romandie, a Swiss cycling event which was scheduled from April 28 to May 3, was canceled due to the coronavirus epidemic, organizers announced on Monday. This cancellation follows measures taken against the coronavirus by the Swiss Federal Council and the suspension by the International Cycling Union (UCI) of all cycling events “in the territories identified at risk by the World Health Organization (WHO )”, say the Tour of Romandie organizers.

March 16, 8:45 a.m. (MT): 2020 Tour of the Alps postponed

The Tour of the Alps will evaluate the opportunity of requesting a postponement in the 2020 calendar. As reported in the official release, “the UCI will communicate at a later stage the possible reallocation of new dates, according to the possibilities offered by the UCI International Calendar but without any guarantee.”

March 14, 07:45 a.m. (MT): 2020 Redlands Bicycle Classic Canceled

Redlands Bicycle Classic became the latest race to be canceled, Saturday 14. The news came via a statement from race director Marc Shaw.

“Considering the latest information, projected timelines, expert analysis, and after consultation with the leadership of our host cities of Redlands, Highland and Yucaipa, we have jointly decided that the 2020 Redlands Bicycle Classic should not occur,” said Shaw.  “Ultimately, the health and well-being of everyone associated with the event, including the citizens of our local communities led us to this difficult decision,”

The race had been scheduled for April 22-26. There was no mention of the race being re-scheduled in 2020, with Shaw saying “our plan is to return in April 2021,” and signing off with “we’ll see you next year in Redlands.”

March 13, 2:15 p.m. (MT) Cape Epic canceled

One of mountain biking’s most challenging races, the Cape Epic, has been canceled. Set to start Sunday, organizers of the multi-stage race said they had “no choice” but to not hold the event.

“Out of concern for health and safety of our riders and other stakeholders, following recent advice received from Western Cape Government, we have no choice but to cancel the 2020 Absa Cape Epic due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.” Race founder Kevin Vermaak said: “I have taken this step with a heavy heart, but the health and safety of everybody involved in the event has to be paramount. At 6 p.m. [Friday] we received the formal advice from government.”

There was no word if the race will try to be rescheduled at a later date.

March 13, 2:00 p.m. (MT) Rasputitsa Spring Classic postponed

The Rasputitsa Spring Classic gravel race in Vermont has been rescheduled. The race was set to take place Saturday, April 18. Organizers have moved it to July 25. All registrants will be able to transfer their registration to the later date.

March 13, 9:00 a.m. (MT) UK Women’s Tour has been postponed

Organizers of the 2020 edition of the Women’s Tour (formerly the OVO Women’s Tour) have postponed the WorldTour stage race, set for June 8-13. The event is owned by SweetSpot Group.

Organizers have not set a new date for the race.

“The decision has been taken early in light of the worsening global situation, following discussions with event stakeholders and partners, in order to provide certainty to the many parties involved in the planning and organization of the event, including local authorities, police and health services in the UK,” organizers said in a statement.

March 13, 08:45 a.m. (MT) Giro d’ Italia start in Hungary has been canceled

The opening stages of this year’s Giro d’Italia set to be held in Hungary have been cancelled due to emergency measures introduced by Budapest, to fight the coronavirus outbreak, Hungarian organizers said Friday.

Three stages – a time-trial in the capital city followed by two stages in western Hungary – were scheduled to take place May 9-11.

“Due to the serious epidemic situation in Europe, the first three stages of the Giro d’Italia will not take place in Hungary,” said a statement by the Hungarian organising committee signed by government official Mariusz Revesz.

March 13, 08:15 a.m. (MT) Paris-Nice will end Saturday

Paris-Nice will end a day early after officials agreed to finish the race with Saturday’s summit finale.

“In agreement with the authorities, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and the City of Nice, the organizers of Paris-Nice have decided to judge the finish of the race tomorrow, Saturday, at the end of the 7th stage in Valdeblore-La Colmiane,” a statement read. “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.”

The decision to continue the race comes following the decision by Bahrain-McLaren to not start Friday’s stage.

Read the full story about the 2020 Paris-Nice ending a day early here.

March 13, 04:45 a.m. (MT) Max Richeze tested positive for coronavirus

Argentinian leadout specialist Max Richeze has confirmed on Instagram that he has tested positive for coronavirus. The news comes hot on the heels of news that his UAE Team Emirates teammate Fernando Gaviria has also fallen victim of the contagious virus.

Richeze and Gaviria’s Emirati team ended their Abu Dhabi lockdown Friday, while the South American pair were left in Abu Dhabi hospitals. The team had elected to quarantine themselves after an outbreak of coronavirus among teams at February’s UAE Tour.

“The time has come for my team to go home, but unfortunately for me, the return trip was postponed. I have tested positive for the coronavirus, therefore my quarantine period is prolonged,” said Richeze in his post (translated).

“Thank God I had no strong symptoms, the infection did not manifest itself aggressively, and this makes me optimistic. I am in charge of a very professional medical team, whom I thank for everything they are doing. I hope that the time to hug my family will also come soon for me … As I always say, these are new challenges that life puts on me, and from which I will come out stronger.”

March 13, 04:45 a.m. (MT) Specialized MTB squad pulls out of Cape Epic

The Specialized Racing Team has decided to pull out of the upcoming Absa Cape Epic MTB stage race in South Africa. The race starts Sunday, March 15 and runs through March 22. The team had been slated to bring a strong lineup to the race, including Jenny Rissveds, Annika Langvad, Tom Pidcock, Christophe Sauser, Jaroslav Kulhavy, and others.

“It is a tough decision for us to pull out of the Absa Cape Epic as the training and preparation leading up to the event has been great and working with the Songo Foundation has been so meaningful,” said team manager Eric Fostvedt in a statement. “While we head home from this year’s event, we all look forward with great anticipation to coming back to this beautiful race in 2021.”

March 13, 03:30 a.m. (MT) UAE Team Emirates ends voluntary lockdown in Abu Dhabi

UAE Team Emirates confirmed Friday that riders and staff that had been in quarantine in an Abu Dhabi hotel have now ended their lockdown.

The one rider who will remain is Fernando Gaviria. It came to light Thursday that the Colombian sprinter had been diagnosed with coronavirus and was in a hospital in Abu Dhabi.

The team had elected to impose the quarantine after the coronavirus scare at the UAE Tour last month. The team had undergone further tests during the 14 day lockdown, and confirmed Friday that results of the third and final round of testing had come back negative, clearing staff and riders – except Gaviria – to head home.

March 13, 1:30 a.m. (MT) E3 BinckBank Classic, Gent Wevelgem, Dwars door Vlaanderen canceled

The trio of Belgian classics, set to run March 27 through April 1, have been canceled after a decree bans sporting events through Flanders. The ban on events runs through April 3 and so at present, the Tour of Flanders, April 5, is unaffected.

Our full report is here.

March 12, 7:00 p.m. (MT) Tour of the Gila is off

New Mexico’s Tour of the Gila stage race has been canceled, officials revealed in a release. The race was slated to be held April 29-May 3 in Silver City, New Mexico.

Jack Brennan, the longtime race director, said he received guidance from local authorities before making the decision.

“Silver City Mayor, Ken Ladner and Silver City Town Manager, Alex Brown, provided leadership and guidance that was important in making this difficult decision,” Brennan said. “Public and participant safety is always of most importance; thus, this hard decision had to be made.”

The 2020 edition was slated to have 19 professional men’s teams and 12 pro women’s squads, as well as a strong amateur field, Brennan said in the release.

“Overall, Tour of the Gila was staged to be one of the largest and best caliber races in its 33 years,” he said.

This is the first time in the race’s 33-year history that it has seen a cancelation of the men’s pro race. The women’s race saw a cancelation in 1997. Gila’s list of winners is a who’s who of North American cycling greats: Mara Abbott, Rob Britton, Burke Swindlehurst, Kristin Armstrong, Kimberly Baldwin, Bart Bowen, among others.

March 12, 4:15 p.m. (MT) Spain cancels cycling events for two weeks

Spain’s Real Federacion Española Ciclismo has suspended or postponed all cycling events through the next two weekends (March 14-15 and March 21-22). The organization made the announcement on Thursday afternoon.

The decision impacts all events on the national calendar, including professional and amateur races.

March 12, 3:45 p.m. (MT) USA CRITS cancels season opener in Birmingham, Alabama

USA CRITS has canceled the opening round of its 2020 series. The race, the Birmingham Hammerfest, was slated to be held in Birmingham, Alabama. According to the series’ social media, the local Jefferson County Department of Health canceled all gatherings of more than 500 people.

“There is no current plan for rescheduling the event. We currently have no updated information regarding future USA CRITS Series races,” the series said on twitter.

The Birmingham race also served as the pre-season media event for all Division-1 teams competing in the series.

March 12, 2:00 p.m. (MT): Gran Fondo New York cancels 2020 world championships race, moves it to 2021

The Gran Fondo New York’s world championships event in New York City, which was set to take place on May 17, has been canceled. The event announced the news on its social media pages, saying that the 2020 world championship race has been postponed until 2021.

“Unfortunately there are no refunds, transfers to another person, or another event of GRNY entires,” the race said on its social media page.

March 12, 1:30 p.m. (MT): Gran Fondo Hincapie- Fort Worth canceled

Organizer’s of George Hincapie’s gran fondo event in Fort Worth, Texas have called off the 2020 event, which was set to take place on May 28. Organizers have steered participants to transfer their registration to the Gran Fondo Hincapie rides in Chattanooga or Greenville at no cost.

March 12, 11:30 (MT): RCS boss reportedly says “another date is also possible” for Giro d’Italia

According to Italian cycling outlet Tuttobici, RCS Sport boss Mauro Vegni has told Italian news agency Adnkronos that another date could be possible for the 2020 Giro d’Italia. The interview focused on the news that Hungary had declared a state of emergency, as the 2020 Giro is slated to kick off May 9 in Hungary.

“Of course we will try to save the start of the Giro d’Italia on May 9 from Hungary, but another date is also possible,” Vegni’s tranlsated quote reads.

The comment marks Vegni’s first acknowledgement that RCS Sport may alter the Giro d’Italia in the wake of the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Currently Italy is the hardest hit European nation, with more than 1,000 reported coronavirus deaths. The 2020 Giro d’Italia is slated to start in 58 days.

March 12, 10:15 (MT): Tejay van Garderen confirms departure from Paris-Nice

Tejay van Garderen has confirmed his departure from Paris-Nice in the wake of the travel ban being placed on European travel by the U.S. government. Van Garderen confirmed the news on his Instagram page, and lamented leaving the race early due to the strong riding of his teammate, Sergio Higuita.

Obviously this is a tough decision. My young brother, [Sergio Higuita] I believe is about to win Paris-Nice. Yet I won’t be able to be there to celebrate with him in Nice. My wife and kids had plans to travel from the US to Nice for the final, but given the current circumstances I couldn’t risk being separated from them with no options of seeing them. So I am returning to the US. I hope this situation will be resolved quickly and everyone can get back to normal life. I am hopeful this will all blow over and I can continue my season with [Tour de Romandie] and beyond. Until then I will continue to train and stay ready. There is a lot of racing left in the season. But health, safety, and family come first. Until then……go @efprocycling!!!!!!

March 12, 0:9:45 (MT): Amity Rockwell pulls out of The Mid South

Amity Rockwell, winner of the 2019 Dirty Kanza, has pulled out of Saturday’s The Mid South race in Oklahoma due to concerns over COVID-19.

On her Instagram page, Rockwell announced the decision, citing the air travel required to reach the event from her home in California’s Bay Area.

“In light of the current global situation and the resources available to me to determine the risk involve din air travel and mass events, I’ve decided not to attend Mid South,” Rockwell wrote. “My trip there and back would put me through 4 different major airports, two of them with confirmed cases of COVID-19, and while I realize I am not at risk, I cannot self-quarantine after traveling and to not wish to play a part in the spread of a pandemic.”

March 12, 09:45 (MT): Ronde van Drenth is canceled

The UCI Women’s WorldTour race Ronde van Drenthe in The Netherlands has been canceled, along with the men’s pro race, which is called the Bevrijdingsronde van Drenthe. The news was reported by cyclingnews.com.

The decision comes after Dutch officials canceled all events across The Netherlands with more than 100 people in attendance. That decision effectively spelled the end of the race.

Organizers have not set a later date for the event, simply confirming that the 2020 edition is off.

March 12, 09:30 (MT): Catalunya is off

Organizers of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya have postponed the 2020 event due to COVID-19. The race, which was slated to start March 23, is celebrating its 100th edition. Organizers did not set a date for its return.

March 12, 09:15 (MT): No hugs from Bobby Wintle at The Mid South gravel race

There will be no hugging at the finish line of Saturday’s The Mid South gravel race in Oklahoma.

Sounds weird, right? Actually, the race is famous for those hugs. Event founder Bobby Wintle stands at the finish line and delivers a warm embrace to all 3,000 finishers as soon as they cross the line.

In a release issued Thursday, the race said that Wintle was no longer going to hug everyone due to the potential spread of COVID-19.

The race is also offering registration deferrals for 2021 to riders who have decided to skip the 2020 event. Registrants who defer must pay for 2021, however they will be guaranteed an entry in the event that sells out. For riders who want to defer, email event manager Sally Turner at sally@midsouthgravel.comm

View this post on Instagram

Update for The Mid South 2020. No hugs will be happening at the finish line on Friday or Sat. We have had several, if not all, of our international participants cancel in the last 12 hours. Many of our coastal participants have also canceled. We are highly recommending as little physical contact with other humans while here at the event. We are offering deferrals for 2021 if you decide to not come this year. We fully understand and support decisions to not come be a part of the event this year. Email us if you are deciding to defer to 2021 and we will be in contact with you within 2 weeks. Thank you all for your support and we love you all. #midsouthgravel #unlearnpavement #districtbicycles

A post shared by The Mid South (@midsouthgravel) on

March 12, 08:00 (MT): Flemish ruling could lead to cancelation of Gent-Wevelgem and other classics

The Flemish government on Thursday has announced that all sporting events be canceled through March 31 due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The decision is likely to impact two of the early cobbled classics: E3 BinckBank Classic and Gent-Wevelgem, which features races for elite men, elite women, and junior and U-23 categories.

Flanders Classics, operators of Gent-Wevelgem, have yet to release a statement confirming the cancelation of the event. The news is reminiscent of the scenario around Strade Bianche. Italian officials announced the prohibition of public events a day or so before organizers canceled the race. Stay tuned to velonews.com as there is likely to be a decision around these races in the next 12 hours or so.

March 12, 07:00 (MT): Flanders Classics postpones cyclosportive amateur events

Flanders Classics, operators of the Tour of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem, and other major Belgian races, has called off its mass-participant cyclosportive rides through April 19. This decision impacts tens of thousands of amateur cyclists who had signed up for the popular mass-start events.

This includes the We Ride Flanders Cyclo, one of the largest mass-participant amateur events on the planet, with 16,000 participants.

Flanders Classics’s CEO Tomas Van Den Spiegel said the company hopes to hold the events later in the year. The 10 events impacted by the decision are:

Tour of Flanders (March 14)

Danlith Nokere Curonian Cyclo (March 15)

Straight through Flanders Cyclo (March 21)

Gent-Wevelgem Cyclo (March 28)

Johan Museeuw Classic (March 29)

Tour of Flanders Business Pelotons (April 3)

We Ride Flanders Cyclo (April 4)

Scheldeprijs Cyclo (April 11)

Peter Van Petegem Classic (April 13)

Brabant Arrow Cyclo (April 18)

March 7, 05:00 (MT): Paris-Nice introduces additional hygiene and health measures

Paris-Nice has introduced a range of measures to manage the coronavirus epidemic. The French stage race released a statement Saturday that outlined a range of initiatives designed to minimize rider-public interaction and so limit the chance of any spread of infection.

The race, organized by Tour de France managers ASO, will be putting the following measures in place:

  • The gates will be reinforced.
  • The speakers will not be interviewing the riders on the departure podium.
  • At the end of each stage, there will not be a press conference in the press room or in the mixed zone at the finish. For interviews, please contact the team press officers individually.
  • There will not be contact between the riders and public figures on the final podium.
  • At the teams’ request, we will not give out paper documents to the riders.

March 6, 05:00 (MT): Milano-SanRemo, Tirreno-Adriatico postponed

Milano-SanRemo and Tirreno Adriatico are the latest races to be impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

Organizers RCS Sport confirmed Friday that the two races have been canceled from their original slots in March and that they are working with the UCI to find suitable slots in the calendar later in the year to host the events.

Second-tier stage race Il Giro di Sicilia has also been canceled.

March 6, 03:30 (MT): Trofeo Binda re-scheduled from March 22 to June 2

Women’s one-day race Trofeo Binda has rescheduled from March 22 to June.  The race, based in the Lombardy region of Italy – one of the focal points of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak – follows hot on the heels of Strade Bianche in abandoning its planned start date.

While Strade Bianche has not yet been re-scheduled, organizers of Trofeo Binda have been quick to confirm a new start date of June 2, coinciding with Italian Republic Day.

March 6, 03:00 (MT): Movistar joins growing list of teams withdrawing from March races

Team Movistar is the latest WorldTour outfit to withdraw from racing in March.

The Spanish team has confirmed they are scrapping all racing activities through March 22, ruling them out of Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, and Milano-Sanremo. Other teams making a similar decision include Mitchelton Scott, Astana, AG2R La-Mondiale, Ineos, and CCC Team.

“This choice, made after consideration of the advice given by the team doctors, takes into account of the current situation related to COVID-19,” reads the team’s statement. “The Movistar Team, looking to preserve the health of all its members, as well as every person in touch with the sport of cycling, makes a decision which seeks to contribute, to the extent of its possibilities, to returning to a normal situation.”

March 6, 00:00 (MT): Sagan re-shuffles early season after Strade Bianche cancelation

Former triple world champion Peter Sagan has been added to Bora-Hansgrohe’s line up for Paris-Nice, starting Sunday. Sagan had been scheduled to race Strade Bianche Saturday, which has now been canceled amid fears of the coronavirus outbreak in the region.

With Paris-Nice teams upped from seven to eight riders as a means of filling out a start sheet losing teams by the minute, Sagan was an obvious addition to Bora-Hansgrohe’s line-up. The Slovakian was scheduled to race Tirreno-Adriatico after this weekend’s Strade Bianche, and with the growing likelihood of Tirreno also being canceled, faced the possibility of a gap in his schedule in the build to the spring classics.

Bora-Hansgrohe confirmed the change of line-up Thursday night via Twitter, and also affirmed their faith in the measures being followed by local authorities to ensure rider and public health.

March 5, 10:15 (MT): CCC Team withdraws from upcoming stage races amid COVID-19 concerns

Following the official cancellation of Strade Bianche, CCC Team has made the decision to withdraw from Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, in the interest of protecting the health and safety of their riders and staff, and the general public, and to avoid the risks of exposure, transmission, and quarantine posed at stage races.

March 5, 9:30 (MT): UAE-Team Emirates withdraws from competition for the immediate future

UAE Team Emirates implemented a voluntary quarantine for the team involved in the UAE Tour, where several riders had been restricted to a hotel room for several days, for testing and observation. The team has announced that it suspended the planned competitive activity for Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-Sanremo races.

March 5, 04:30 (MT): Strade Bianche canceled after race organizers meet with local authorities

One of cycling’s most dramatic race days — Italy’s Strade Bianche — will not be raced Saturday.

Despite holding out hope, race officials pulled the plug on Saturday’s Strade Bianche after facing a widening coronavirus crisis across Italy. RCS Sport officials met with local authorities in Sienna on Thursday morning. Sources confirmed to VeloNews that teams have been notified the race will not be held.

Officials are expected to make a decision on other upcoming races, including Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo, in the coming days. RCS Sport officials already confirmed they are studying options about scheduling the races this fall.

March 5, 04:00 (MT): Cofidis riders quarantined in Abu Dhabi receive trainers

Team Cofidis riders quarantined in Abu Dhabi through ’til March 14 have been offered some respite from the boredom and fears over de-training, having received a shipment of trainers to their hotel.

https://twitter.com/TeamCOFIDIS/status/1235483500863684608

March 5, 03:00 (MT): Astana pull plug until 20 March

Astana has confirmed it has withdrawn from racing until March 20 in a bid to protect rider and staff health.

“We have chosen to protect the health of our riders and staff and to take our responsibility for the society in not further spreading the virus,” Astana general manager Alexander Vinokurov said.

“Of course, we would have preferred to participate in all upcoming races, but for now, it’s safety first. We still have a long season ahead with many other important races.”

Withdrawing teams from racing means Astana will miss Strade Bianche, Paris-Nice, and Tirreno Adriatico. The Kazakh team joins Ineos and Mitchelton-Scott in taking extended breaks from racing, while Jumbo-Visma has pulled out of Strade Bianche this weekend.

“It was not an easy decision, but we have to protect the cycling family as well as our own families at home,” said Vinokurov.

March 5, o3:00 (MT): Israel Cycling Academy Continental team withdraws from Arava Race

The development team for Israel Start-Up Nation has entered its riders into home quarantine and abandoned a planned start at the Israeli Arava race.

The team explained the decision on Facebook:

“According to the government, all citizens returning from Germany, Spain, Italy, and several other European countries will be obliged to stay at home in quarantine for 14 days,” reads the statement.

“At least five riders of the Conti team returned to Israel from Spain after completing a two-week training camp in Girona – to take part in the most critical one day race in Israel – the Arava grand Fondo this Saturday.”

March 5, 02:30 (MT): UCI not to cancel events ‘at this stage’ imposes additional safety measures on races

Cycling’s governing body has released an official statement confirming “the decision has been taken not to proceed with the cancellation of any events at this stage.”

While the UCI is currently giving the green light for upcoming races in the wake of the spreading concerns over coronavirus, it has imposed a set of measures designed to “reduce the risk of infection among riders, team staff, the public and any other person involved in cycling, in order to avoid contributing to the spread of the coronavirus worldwide.”

Measures imposed include:

  • Increasing distance between public and riders at events;
  • Respecting “strict medical protocol, variable depending on the country;”
  • Limiting the number of teams staying in one hotel;
  • Respecting certain hygiene measures, “for example avoiding the use of the same pen by riders signing in at the beginning of the race.”

March 4, 16:00 (MT): Seven coronavirus cases in Wevelgem

Belgian news outlet De Kran van West-Vlaanderen is reporting that there are seven confirmed cases of coronavirus in Wevelgem, the town that will host the finish of Gent-Wevelgem on March 29. According to the report, the seven people went on a ski trip together in Northern Italy where they came into contact with the virus. Three of the infected are children.

According to the report, one family member told the outlet that, “None of us is really sick.”

Wevelgem has long hosted the finish of Gent-Wevelgem, which features WorldTour races for both pro men and women, as well as Nations Cup races for juniors and Under-23 riders. Wevelgem also hosts the Gent-Wevelgem Cyclo, an amateur cyclosportive that is held the day before the pro race. That event, held this year on March 28, attracts approximately 7,000 riders each year.

March 4, 15:40 (MT): A race without spectators or physical contact?

Sporting events across Europe are adjusting to the new challenges posed by COVID-19. France’s premier soccer league, Ligue 1, has announced there will be no handshakes between players and officials at upcoming matches as a way to curb the spread of the virus. Players will also hold the young mascots by the shoulder and not by the hand, which is what usually happens. The pre-match handshake between sides will also be cancelled.

After the Italian government’s decree there is some speculation around whether the races could still be held if they somehow convinced spectators to stay at home. For instance, some Italian soccer matches are still taking place because they are being held in empty stadiums, illustrated in the image below:

March 4, 15:15 (MT): Text of the Italian decree

The text of the official decree issued by the Italian government on how to curb coronavirus is now available in translated English. The decree has several sections that focus on sporting events, and what rules the teams and events should follow to prevent the further spread of the disease.

Below are a few excerpts from the order:

In order to counter and contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the following measures apply throughout the country:

b) shows, events and shows of any kind, including cinematic and theatrical performances, held in any place, both public and private, which cause crowding of people such as not to allow respect for the interpersonal safety distance of at least one meter referred to in Annex 1, letter d); 

c) sports events and competitions of all types and disciplines, held in every place, both public and private, are also suspended; however, in municipalities other than those listed in Annex 1 to the Prime Minister’s decree of 1 March 2020, and subsequent amendments, it is permitted to carry out the aforementioned events and competitions, as well as the training sessions of competitive athletes, at the inside sports facilities used behind closed doors, or outdoors without the presence of the public; in all such cases, the associations and sports clubs, by means of their medical staff, are required to carry out the appropriate checks to contain the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus among athletes, technicians, managers and all accompanying persons who participate.

March 4, 15:00 (MT): Team Ineos bows out

Team Ineos has announced it will cancel its pro racing program until the Volta a Catalunya on March 23. This effectively removes Team Ineos from Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, Paris-Nice, and Milano-Sanremo. The team’s revealed the news in a message on social media.

“Following the tragic loss of Nico Portal, and in addition to the current uncertainty around the Coronavirus, Team INEOS have today taken the decision to withdraw temporarily from all racing until the Volta a Catalunya on March 23.”

March 4, 14:00 (MT): RCS Sport cancels Strade Bianche gran fondo

RCS Sport, owner of Strade Bianche, Milano-Sanremo, and Tirreno Adriatico has just cancelled the amateur gran fondo at Strade Bianche, set to take place on March 8, the day after the pro race. RCS Sport has yet to cancel the professional races, however.

“Regarding the bike races Strade Bianche (7 March), Strade Bianche Women Elite (7 March), Tirreno-Adriatico (11-17 March), Milano-Sanremo (21 March) and Il Giro di Sicilia (1-4 April), RCS Sport will communicate the updates and details in the coming days, following the meetings with the appropriate authorities, starting from the meeting with the Prefecture of Siena tomorrow morning.”

March 4, 12:00 (MT): Italian govt. decree could cancel pro races

Multiple outlets are reporting that the Italian government has decreed that all public events and public sporting events be cancelled until April 3. The decree states that major sporting events such as soccer and rugby matches can take place without a crowd present, but that major spectator events should be called off. There is no official word that this will cancel the upcoming WorldTour races, however the decision is likely to impact the events.

March 4, 10:00 (MT): CCC-Liv will skip Strade Bianche

Women’s pro team CCC-Liv will not participate in the Strade Bianche pro race on Saturday, the team announced in a release. The squad of Marianne Vos made the decision after speaking with its medical staff about the coronavirus situation.

“The risks are simply too big. We make this decision with mixed feelings, because we were really looking forward to this beautiful and well-organised race. The mind, however, has won from the emotion. The health and safety of our riders and staff have the highest priority at all times,” Team Director Eric van den Boom said in a release.

March 4, 10:00 (MT): Mitchelton-Scott and van Vleuten skip March races

Mitchelton-Scott has pulled its men’s and women’s teams out of races for most of the March calendar, meaning Annemiek van Vleuten, the defending champion at Strade Bianche, will not be there to defend her title. Mitchelton-Scott will not race the following events in Italy: Strade Bianche, GP Industria, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milano-Sanremo, Trofeo Alfredo Binda. The team will also skip French race Paris-Nice, as well as the Ronde van Drenthe and Danilith Nokere Koerse in the Netherlands and Belgium.

https://twitter.com/AvVleuten/status/1235227700186484737

March 4, 08:30 (MT):  Jumbo-Visma is out of Strade Bianche

Jumbo-Visma will skip Saturday’s Strade Bianche over mounting fears of the coronavirus’s spread in Italy. The Dutch team had one of the favorites to win in Wout van Aert, who was third at the Italian classic two years ago.

“Together with the management of our team, I am constantly considering and acting in the interest of the health and working conditions of our riders and staff members,” said team director Richard Plugge in a release. “That includes, for example, preventing them from quarantine abroad. We have to look at the broader picture and take responsibility for the health of riders, staff and fans.”

March 4, 06:30  (MT): Fernando Gaviria reportedly diagnosed with coronavirus

Belgian news outlet RTBF.be has reported that Colombian sprint star Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) is one of the six riders that were diagnosed with coronavirus Tuesday night. RTBF has also states that three members of Russian-based Gazprom Rusvelo have been confirmed as positive — two Russian riders and a German staffer.

VeloNews is reaching out to UAE Team Emirates and Gazprom to attempt to find further information

March 4, 06:30 (MT): Groupama-FDJ is still locked down in the UAE

Groupama-FDJ, who were one of three teams remaining in lockdown in Abu Dhabi, confirm that, like Cofidis, they will remain in quarantine through to 14 March.

“All ofour riders and staff in the UAE have been tested negative for COVID-19, still several positive results, not involving our etam – have been reported inside our hotel,” read a team statement.

Gazprom-Rusvelo, the final of the three teams locked down in the hotel, is yet to release a statement.

March 4, 05:30 (MT): Cofidis quarantine continues in UAE

Team Cofidis confirms it will remain in quarantine in Abu Dhabi for a further 10 days, under the bidding of local health authorities.