'They could have let us know earlier': Teams react to Strade Bianche cancellation

Riders will now compete for places at Paris-Nice as uncertainty also falls over Tirreno-Adriatico

Deceuninck - Quick-Step sports director Wilfried Peeters says race organisers could have let teams know earlier that Strade Bianche would be cancelled.

RCS Sport met with the mayor of Siena on Thursday morning (March 5) and confirmed it would not be able to meet the new restrictions set out by the Italian government for holding a sporting event during the outbreak. RCS had originally told the teams set to compete in the Italian one-day classic on Monday, five days before the start, that the race would be going ahead as planned.

Now they will ask the UCI for a rearranged date in the calendar for both the men's and women's races.

"We saw this coming," Peeters told Sporza about the decision to cancel Strade Bianche. "Do we understand why it took so long? Every organisation wants its competition to continue, but the risk was too great. Many teams had already dropped out, the government put pressure on them and in fact, they could have let us know earlier."

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WorldTour teams such as Ineos, Jumbo-Visma, EF Pro Cycling, and Mitchelton-Scott had already decided to pull out of the race before the announcement was made. It is not yet clear whether Tirreno-Adriatico or the first Monument of the year, Milan - San Remo, will also be called off but a number of riders will nevertheless opt to instead race Paris-Nice as they look to build form ahead of the Belgian Classics.

One such rider is EF Pro Cycling's Sep Vanmarcke, who told Het Nieuwsblad: "It's a bad situation, but we can only wait. I hope the team will now send me to Paris-Nice because then I don't have to change much in my training towards the Classics. But for that race there are now thirty riders vying for eight places. If I'm not chosen I hope that the team runs a very professional training camp, simulating races.

"I am not afraid of such an internship either. Due to injuries I have often had to prepare for the most important race weeks of the year with very few races. I am not too nervous about that," Vanmarcke said. "Thwarting the coronavirus is the first concern for everyone, isn't it?"

Deceuninck - Quick-Step will also reshuffle their squads, adding Zdeněk Štybar, Bob Jungels and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne winner Kasper Asgreen to their Paris-Nice line-up.

"Riders for the Classics have been given priority," Peeters added. "Stybar, Asgreen and Jungels will join the team and Dries Devenyns, Rémi Cavagna and Tim Declercq will make way. We can prepare them in other competitions, such as the Monseré GP on Sunday. We have also added the GP Denain to our program. "

These three riders will be accompanied by Julian Alaphilippe, Yves Lampaert, Michael Mørkøv and Sam Bennett who remain in the squad for the French stage race.

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