ASO is looking to fill gaps on the start-line of Paris-Nice after multiple teams suspended racing following the developing coronavirus situation in Europe.
A number of WorldTour teams announced earlier this week that they would not be taking part in Strade Bianche or Tirreno-Adriatico due to the growing number of coronavirus cases in Italy, before the race was officially cancelled on Thursday morning, while some teams have gone further and postponed all their racing for the forthcoming weeks.
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Ineos, Astana, Mitchelton-Scott, CCC and UAE Team Emirates will all miss the French stage race as they look to keep any potential coronavirus infections at arm’s length, leaving ASO with a significant reduction in the riders on their start-line.
The race organiser has therefore told teams they will be allowed to field eight-man squads instead of the original seven, a move that will no doubt please teams and riders who faced a reduced number of racing days due to events in Italy.
ASO has also invited two ProTeams Circus-Wanty Gobert and B&B Hotels – Vital Concept in another attempt to make up the numbers.
Due to the cancellation of Strade Bianche, and next week’s Tirreno-Adriatico looking increasingly unlikely as the Italian government takes steps to contain the spread of the virus, Deceuninck Quick-Step have added Zdeněk Štybar, Bob Jungels and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne winner Kasper Asgreen to their Paris-Nice line-up to help them get ready for the Classics.
Meanwhile, Ag2r La Mondiale will now field Romain Bardet at Paris-Nice after the French team pulled out of both Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan – San Remo.
While the French rider adds competition to the line-up, Mikel Landa has been forced to skip the race due to the injury sustained when he was hit by a car during a training ride last month.
Bahrain McLaren’s head doctor, Dr Carlo Guardascione said: “The persistence of stress pain caused by last month’s road accident requires Mikel to have a less physically demanding schedule over the next two weeks.”