Paris-Nice will hold rest of race ‘behind closed doors’ because of coronavirus

Buffer zones will restrict public access at the start and finish

Paris-Nice organisers have announced the rest of the 2020 edition will be held “behind closed doors” as they look to comply with authorities over the coronavirus threat posed by and to the race.

ASO announced during stage two that they will comply with new regulations set out by French authorities to limit public gatherings of more than 1,000 by banning public access from the start and finish of stages.

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This will be achieved by introducing buffer zones 100m around the sign-on podium at the start of the stage and 300m from the finish line.

ASO said in a statement: “In order to comply with the French Ministry of Health’s ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people, the organisers of Paris-Nice have decided together with government authorities to hold the race “behind closed doors”. Public access will be restricted at the start and finish of each stage with a buffer zone within 100 metres of the podium at the start and 300 metres at the finish.

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“The organisers of Paris-Nice call upon spectators to observe these new rules even though they stand in contrast to cycling’s tradition of bringing riders and fans together.”

One tweet from a French broadcaster shows empty barriers in the lead-up to the finish line of stage two, with members of the public blocked behind other barriers with a distant view of the run-in, which is expected to culminate in a sprint finish.

ASO are doing all they can to keep their race on, which is one of the only surviving races from a month that will be remembered for the loss of Italy’s March races. Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan – San Remo were all called off as Italy continues to grapple with their coronavirus outbreak.

A number of teams, including Ineos, Jumbo-Visma, Movistar and Astana, pulled out of Paris-Nice as a precaution, but a number of WorldTour outfits including Bora-Hansgrohe and Deceuninck – Quick-Step have taken strong line-ups to the French stage race.

In other coronavirus news, FDJ and Cofidis have finally been released from quarantine at the UAE Tour.

The two French squads were kept in their hotel for over a week after the Middle Eastern stage race was cancelled following a coronavirus outbreak that saw a number of people infected with the virus. UAE Team Emirates and Gazprom-RusVelo remain on lockdown in the UAE.