‘We are starting to feel unsafe’: Will the Giro d’Italia make it to Milan?
Two teams have already pulled out while riders are discussing whether to continue
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The Giro d’Italia has reached the half-way point despite all the uncertainty surrounding the race, but the question is now whether the peloton will reach Milan.
Coronavirus hit the Giro in the first week, with pre-race favourite Simon Yates forced to withdraw after testing positive for the virus.
Things didn’t improve after the first rest day on Monday (October 12), with another favourite Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) pulling out after contracting coronavirus along with Sunweb sprinter Michael Matthews (Sunweb).
The rest day coronavirus testing also resulted in two teams opting to pull out of the race altogether, as Mitchelton-Scott and Jumbo-Visma left the race due to safety concerns.
So will the race reach the final stage in Milan?
Race director Mauro Vegni told Italian broadcaster RAI he wanted the race to reach Milan almost “at any price” before the start of stage 10.
Vegni said: “We absolutely want the Giro d’Italia to make it to Milan.
“I’d say at any price, excluding any major or medical problems. We knew holding the Giro in October was problematic, we’re doing all we can to make it to Milan with all the doubts and challenges."
The uncertainty around the race only increased before the start of stage 12, when 17 police officers working on the Giro-E, an e-bike sportive that accompanies the Giro, tested positive for the virus.
While the motorbike escort officers are not working on the pro race and are not believed to have had any contact with the Giro race bubble, the positives are still a concern for the riders.
Lotto-Soudal rider Thomas De Gendt said his team spent 20 minutes on the morning of stage12 discussing whether to continue racing.
De Gendt told Sporza (opens in new tab): “I have to be honest, my head is not really focused on races after the news of the 17 infected police officers.
“Things are going in the bad direction in this Giro. We have been discussing with the riders in the team for 20 minutes whether or not to start because we are starting to feel unsafe.”
The question of whether to continue racing also came up at Mitchelton-Scott and Jumbo-Visma earlier this week, with both WorldTour teams opting to pull out after positive coronavirus results within their bubbles.
Mitchelton had four members of team staff test positive, while Jumbo only had one positive (Kruisjwijk) but still decided to leave the race to protect the health of their riders and staff.
When asked if he thought the race would reach Milan, Jumbo sports director Addy Engels said: “I don’t know, I can’t look into the future.”
But stage 12 got underway as planned with no mention from the organisers about a possible cancellation, while De Gendt feels teams and race organisers may be waiting for the decision to be taken out of their hands.
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He said: "There is a lot of money involved and for sponsors it is very important that we go to Milan. They are waiting for the government to make a decision and those decisions come too late."
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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.
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