Trek-Segafredo sports director Steven de Jongh says he fears Paris-Nice may be one of the last races for a while as Europe’s coronavirus outbreak appears to become more serious by the day.
Italy currently has the worst outbreak outside China, with over 7,000 confirmed cases and 366 deaths at the time of writing, with one expert warning the UK has only a “few days” to implement measures to avoid a similar situation.
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The outbreak in Italy has seen the cancellation of Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan – San Remo, draining March’s racing calendar, as teams dropped out in order to safeguard their riders and staff as well as limit any potential harm to public health.
Paris-Nice has been allowed to continue, although during the second day organisers said the remaining stages would be raced “behind closed doors” as they banned the public from start and finish lines.
Sports director De Jongh has now said he thinks Paris-Nice may be the last high-level race for a while, as the coronavirus looks to be getting more serious by the day. The international aspect of cycling poses a significant risk that authorities are unlikely to permit and teams won’t want to get caught up in any situations such as the quarantine of the UAE Tour.
“I am happy that [Paris-Nice] is continuing and that we are racing here,” De Jongh told ANP. “It is perhaps one of the last races for the time being. We can see from China and Italy how long it takes before the contamination figures no longer increase.
“As long as they say it is safe for the wider public, we see no need not to race. But I fear that could all change in a matter of days,” the sports director said.
Fears surround the upcoming Giro d’Italia, with race director Mauro Vegni worried about the damage that cancelling such an event would do to the country.
“Canceling the Giro d’Italia would create a very complex situation not only for cycling or sport but for the whole country. I don’t even want to think about such an eventuality. The damages would be truly immense,” Vegni told Sporza.