'90 per cent of the peloton think the race won’t get to Nice,’ says Jasper Stuyven

With coronavirus still hanging over Paris-Nice, riders think the race could be stopped

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jasper Stuyven says 90 per cent of the peloton think Paris-Nice won’t reach it’s final destination.

The eight-stage race from the north to the south of France is under way after a number of races in Europe were cancelled because of the spread of coronavirus.

But Paris-Nice has not avoided the impacts of Covid-19 entirely, as the race organisers have banned fans from attending stage finishes and introduced buffer zones to protect riders.

Despite these measures, taken after as French government banned public gatherings of more than 1,000 people, riders still fear the race could be abandoned mid-way through.

In an interview with Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws Stuyven, recent winner of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, said: “If you look around the peloton, 90 per cent assume that we will not get to Nice.”

The Trek-Segafredo rider added that he hadn’t noticed fans were not present at the stage finish on day two.

Paris-Nice is heading through central France on stage three, from Châlette-sur-Loing to La Châtre, before heading to the final stage in Nice on France’s southern coast, just 40km from the Italian border.

Last week, race organiser RCS was forced to cancel a number of Italian races, including Milan-San Remo, as the government prohibited public sports events and teams were pulling out over safety concerns.

France currently has 1,400 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus with 30 fatalities, a considerable amount lower than the 9,000 diagnoses and 400 deaths in Italy.

The Italian government has now expanded the lockdown from the northern regions to cover the entire country, sparking new concerns about the fate of the Giro d’Italia.

While Paris-Nice continues, Stuyven said he was also concerned about the cancellation of the remaining spring Classics, which continue with Bredene Koksijde Classic, and E3 Harelbeke later this month.

Trek-Segafredo sports director Steven de Jongh said: “Let’s hope we can continue. If they say we must stop, we will stop. We should not naively think that the virus is no longer spreading here. I also fear that more races will be cancelled, in the Flemish spring too.

“It looks gloomy.”

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.