The 2020 UAE Tour has been abandoned over coronavirus fears, according to multiple sources.
Riders and teams have both said that the final two stages of the Middle East WorldTour race will be called off.
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All riders racing in the United Arab Emirates will be tested for the virus, while we are awaiting further details from the race organiser RCS.
There were two suspected cases of the virus in the riders’s hotel, according to the Israel Start-Up Nation WorldTour squad.
The team said: “We got an official word that two suspected corona virus cases found in the the teams’s hotel in Abu Dhabi. UAE Tour canceled. We are all going to be checked for the virus in the next few hours.”
CCC Team also confirmed the news, saying: “Following a meeting with race organisers, general manager Piotr Wadecki confirmed that the UAE Tour has been cancelled due to possible cases of the coronavirus COVID-19. All riders and staff will be tested. We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.”
Mitchelton-Scott added: “The final two days of racing is cancelled due to concerns around coronavirus. Riders and staff remain in the hotel and will be tested shortly, with their health taking priority. We hope anyone affected makes a fast recovery.”
Chris Froome said on Twitter: “It’s a shame that the UAE Tour has been cancelled but public health must come first. We are all awaiting testing and will remain at the hotel until further notice. I hope those affected make a speedy recovery and there aren’t any further cases.”
Team Ineos also added: “Following the cancellation of the UAE Tour we are monitoring the situation closely. We will follow the guidance of the relevant authorities and support them in managing this situation. The health and safety of all staff and riders is paramount.”
Astana said on Twitter: “It is reported that the UAE Tour is cancelled due to the situation with coronavirus. However, we are waiting for the official confirmation from the organisation of the race.”
Jumbo-Visma also said: “We have taken note of the cancellation of the UAE Tour due to the occurrence of the coronavirus. We wish all the people involved the very best, awaiting further developments.”
According to Italian cycling website Tuttobici, UAE authorities have intervened to test riders and staff for the Covid-19 and that anyone test positive for the illness will be put into quarantine for 14 days, while those given the all clear will fly home on Saturday (February 29).
Communications manager at Lotto-Soudal, Philippe Maertens said: “All riders and staff will be tested now.”
According to Spanish newspaper Marca, the race and staff were transferred from a hotel in Dubai to Abu Dhabi for the next phase of the race, but on arrival the race organisation sent round an email saying no one was allowed to leave their hotels.
Earlier today, six new cases of the virus were reported in the UAE bringing the total number in the country to 19.
The new patients are believed to have entered the country from Iran, before the UAE suspended all flights from the neighbouring nation.
Pro Continental team Vini Zabú-KTM said: “In the hotel the local authorities are testing all the riders and the staff members.”
Mitchelton-Scott’s Adam Yates had been leading the race after the second ascent of the Jebel Hafeet climb on stage five, which was won by Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).
More to follow