Coronavirus continues to cause chaos in the cycling world as the E3 BinckBank Classic and Ghent-Wevelgem are likely to be cancelled.
Authorities in Flanders have announced that all sporting events in the region will be suspended until the end of March because of the spread of Covid-19, but the impact on the pro races is not yet certain.
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The announcement, made by Flemish Deputy Prime Minister Ben Weyts on Thursday afternoon (March 12), means that Nokere Koerse, the Bredene Koksijde Classic, the Three Days of De Panne, E3 BinckBank, and Ghent-Wevelgem could be cancelled.
There has been no announcement about the biggest Belgian one-day race of the year, the Tour of Flanders in April, or Paris-Roubaix the following week.
In a statement Weyts, who is the minister responsible for sport in Flanders, said: “The Pro League, the RBFA, Voetbal Flanders, Cycling Flanders, the Flemish Sports Federation, the Gymnastics Federation and Sport Flanders now jointly decide to cancel public meetings – indoor and outdoor – until March 31.
“After all, the sports sector does not want to be a catalyst for the further spread of the virus. It is the great strength of sport that it brings many people together. But that power becomes a vulnerability when a virus spreads wherever large groups come together.
“Sport is at the heart of our society. Today everyone must take their social responsibility and show solidarity with everyone affected by the virus and anyone who could be affected in the coming weeks and months.”
The potential cancellation of Belgian races is the latest dent Covid-19 has put on the cycling calendar, after Strade-Bianche, Milan-San Remo, Trofeo Alfredo Binda and a string of other Italian races were postponed due to public health concerns.
UAE Team Emirates rider Fernando Gaviria has also confirmed he has tested positive for coronavirus while being kept under quarantine in Abu Dhabi after the UAE Tour was abandoned because of an outbreak in the team hotel.
The spread of coronavirus in Europe has also raised concerns about the 2020 Giro d’Italia after the Italian government extended the lockdown in the northern regions to cover the entire country.