Following a meeting held today with representatives of different members of the cycling family – teams, riders and organisers -, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) specifies the following on the subject of the next events on its calendar given the current pneumonia epidemic (Covid-19) linked to the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). But with a number of teams having already said they will not participate in upcoming races, the decision may be out of the governing body’s hands.
“The decision has been taken not to proceed with the cancellation of any events at this stage,” says the UCI. “Any possible decision to cancel will be taken by the health authorities in the concerned regions depending on the evolution of the local situation and different risk factors identified. The organisers and all members of the cycling family will be obliged to comply to any such decision.”
Measures that organisers must adopt “with the aim of limiting to a maximum the risk of the coronavirus spreading further” include:
increasing the distance between the public and riders, particularly in the start and finish zones
respecting a strict medical protocol, variable depending on the country, but in any case including a process for dealing with suspected cases and the provision of a detailed map of establishments capable of carrying out diagnostic tests for the coronavirus
limiting the number of teams staying in each hotel
respecting certain hygiene measures, for example avoiding the use of the same pen by riders signing in at the beginning of the race.
The UCI says it needs to be “informed rapidly” where certain teams are refused participation in races or themselves decide not to take part.
“In such a situation,” the governing body continues, “it will take necessary measures, on a case-by-case basis, to ensure that no team is penalised, either financially or when their sporting results are considered, in particular when it comes to evaluating their UCI WorldTeam or UCI ProTeam status.”
The UCI adds: “If the evolution of the situation were to justify other measures, the UCI, which is permanently following the situation and remains in contact with all stakeholders via an ad hoc group, will rapidly take the necessary decisions.”
French UCI WorldTour outfit Groupama-FDJ has announced it will not race at Strade Bianche on Saturday or Tirreno-Adriatico next week.
The team is one of four with riders and staff currently in quarantine in an Abu Dhabi hotel following the UAE Tour last week.
It said on Twitter that situation was partly to blame for it "lacking sufficient numbers of available riders and staff" and its decision to pull out of the Italian races.
— Équipe Cycliste Groupama-FDJ (@GroupamaFDJ) March 4, 2020
STATEMENT: Mitchelton-SCOTT position regarding COVID-19.
Following extensive discussions, we have made the decision to withdraw our teams from the next period of racing, regardless of the individual Government Regulations in place.
More details 👇https://t.co/nV8lbx0eG4
— Mitchelton-SCOTT (@MitcheltonSCOTT) March 4, 2020
The domino effect is beginning to take hold, with another big name confirming their absence... at this rate, there will be no one racing the white gravel at the weekend.
Mitchelton-Scott have pulled their men's and women's teams out of eight races in total: they are the Strade Bianche, GP Industria, Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Ronde van Drenthe, Danilith Nokere Koerse, Milan-San Remo and Trofeo Alfredo Binda.
The multiple former National Cyclocross Champion Ian Field has announced the creation of his coaching company 'Veld'. The name comes from the Dutch translation of 'field', Ian's surname. Speaking about the new venture, Field said:
"Having coached for eight years on a limited basis while racing professionally, I am excited to now be in a position to dedicate time to launch my own coaching vision".
Veld will offer a range of plans on a pay-monthly basis. To find out more, click to the link below.
This is the first recorded case of someone learning something on Twitter and changing their mind. https://t.co/BRQgYXK9np
— Bernie Langer (@bernie_langer) March 4, 2020
Many have praised Vaughters to have the humility to back down and change his opinion after getting more advice on keeping his riders safe from coronavirus.
— Wieler Revue (@wielerrevue) March 4, 2020
We're not sure exactly the make and model of the contraption Stybar has on his bars, but it'll certainly get you heard. The footage was posted by Mathieu van der Poel, who is back on his bike after missing a considerable amount of training recently due to a heavy flu (no, not THAT flu).
I am looking for help to locate some of my old Colnago's from the Rabobank days between 2003-2007. I am trying to recollect them for my own little bike museum. Please spread the word. pic.twitter.com/hKtdXqsPhr
— Michael Rasmussen (@MRasmussen1974) March 4, 2020
The convicted doper is looking to build his own 'bike museum', and would like to locate some of the Colnago bikes he used for Team Rabobank between 2003-2007 to decorate it with.
Have you seen any fashionble folk buzzing around Shoreditch on one of Michael's bikes? If so, he would like you to get in touch...
Glasgow's Active Travel project will commence as part of the council's bid to tackle the climate crisis and improve public health, reports Glasgow Live. The project is been presided over by Sustrans, and it's hoped the new protected cycle routes will boost active travel in the city.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson promised even more funds in the future, saying: "For our wellbeing, health and climate – people require more opportunities to walk, cycle and wheel for shorter everyday journeys. As we respond to the climate emergency, this focus has never been greater and our funding is now at record levels. The draft budget proposes over £85 million for active travel, much of which will be match funded, and that is before an additional £15 million in ring-fenced local authority funding which brings the amount to over £100 million pounds."
Following Ef Pro Cycling and Parkhotel Valkenburg are Jumbo-Visma, who said in a statement: "Team Jumbo-Visma will not participate in Strade Bianche and GP Industria, this weekend. The decision has been taken on medical advice, the recommendation of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as on sportive and practical grounds. It’s likely that the same decision will apply to other Italian races in March. However, we are also awaiting messages from the Italian government.
“We know that any team that goes to Italy might probably be prevented from racing in any other country. The focus has to be on salvaging the bulk of the season, not a handful of races”, a joint statement of cycling teams, including Team Jumbo-Visma, says. The teams are in close contact with the UCI, who will make their decisions known shortly.
Medical advice and guidelines of the involved authorities will be taken into account before any decision about participation will be made."
With big name teams dropping out, will organisers have no choice but to pull the race? We're still waiting for an official announcement from the Italian government, so as it stands the Strade Bianche will go ahead.
— PHVCT (@PushingDreamsNL) March 4, 2020
The team have joined EF Pro Cycling in pulling out of the Strade Bianche, citing safety concerns.
The statement says: "We are not going to Siena and start on the Strade Bianche on March 7th. The same is for the Trofeo Alfredo Binda on March 22nd.
"It is super unfortunate that we have to come to this conclusion at the latest timing, but if the Italian government, the race organisation or the UCI will not take responsibility, then we need to take it."
— Bolton Council (@boltoncouncil) March 4, 2020
We'll break off from coronavirus updates briefly to ask Bolton Council? What's up with cycling or walking? Although the link they provide to Greater Manchester's Clean Air plan does a better job of telling us all the ways we can reduce pollution.
Riders actually in quarantine are the riders of UAE, Gazprom, FDJ and Cofidis
There is only One Colombian there and is Gaviria.
— La Flamme Rouge (@laflammerouge16) March 4, 2020
The UAE Team Emirates rider was the only Colombian at the race, therefore there is speculation that he is one of the six positive tests confirmed by the Ministry of Health and Prevention in the UAE. Various media outlets including Semana and El Deportivo have essentially confirmed Gaviria is one of those infected.
Hasta ayer mismo no os preocupasteis de nada sobre nuestro asunto y encima fue porque una tercera persona llamó al presidente.
Los contactos con el @deportegob empezaron ayer precisamente por esa llamada.
Ya que no haceis nada encima no nos tomeis el pelo.
— Jose Herrada Lopez (@joherradalopez) March 4, 2020
Clearly a frustrated man, Lopez replied to a tweet from the federation that says they are working with the UAE's embassy to process the return of Spanish nationals to say they have only got involved because someone got in touch with the Spanish president: "don't tease us", he says.
Y aqui seguimos.. 6° día. Resulta que hay positivos en otro equipo. Lo lógico hubiese sido dejarnos salir justo después de nuestro segundo negativo en el test, pero no, aquí nos seguimos retenidos. Muchos meses de trabajo tirados a la basura y lo peor, privados de nuesta libertad
— Jesús Herrada López (@jesushl90) March 4, 2020
Lopez said Cofidis have now learned the positive tests were diagnosed in staff from another team as the sixth day of quarantine has begun. He continues: "Many months of work have been thrown away and the worst, we're deprived of our freedom."
Lopez also says they have rollers to keep some kind of fitness, and has accused some journalists of "spreading bull" about the situation. Meanwhile, it looks like Nathan Haas will be spending his birthday in quarantine...
Looks like I’ll be spending my birthday here... I’m ok with it as long as I can get a cake made in the shape of the coronavirus pic.twitter.com/dhqVGCp6VE
— Nathan Haas (@NathanPeterHaas) March 4, 2020
— Équipe Cycliste Groupama-FDJ (@GroupamaFDJ) March 4, 2020
Groupama-FDJ have confirmed they have been informed that 12 of their employees have been asked to observe a period of quarantine in the UAE until 14th March. They say none of the positive tests involve their team.
In an extraordinary U-turn, EF Pro Cycling manager Jonathan Vaughters has not only admitted he was wrong about coronavirus prevention, but his team have now sensationally pulled themselves out of the big three upcoming Italian races. Vaughters sent this tweet on Monday afternoon...
Very happy to see this. Getting on with business as usual. Accepting risk is part of living. Accepting and embracing risk is a really big part of cycling and professional cycling. So, let’s get on with it and race some bikes! #exploretheworld #chickenlittleneedsprozac https://t.co/XsFneVcl6i
— Jonathan Vaughters (@Vaughters) March 2, 2020
And by the evening, he was thanking a medical expert for educating him on the spread of the virus and "medical capacity issues" that he hadn't considered...
A shout out to Dr. Nogueira, who educated me on velocity of spread vs medical capacity issues that I had not considered. While I can’t say more at current time, your lessons to me have profoundly impacted our thinking and strategy going forward. Good things can come from Twitter! https://t.co/bFxAR4wyom
— Jonathan Vaughters (@Vaughters) March 2, 2020
In a letter seen by the Wall Street Journal, EF wrote to UCI chief David Lappartient and organisers RCS Sport asking to be excused from the Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo because of growing fears surrounding coronavirus:
“We are writing today to find out if RCS has a robust containment and prevention strategy in place—to our satisfaction—for the protection of both the teams and the communities, or if we can come to a mutual agreement regarding our team’s non-participation in these events.
"These are races our riders are passionate about—they are wove into the soul of professional cycling. That said, the health and safety of our team is paramount, and as the director of the World Health Organisation noted on Monday: ‘Containment of COVID-19 is feasible and must remain the top priority for all countries.”
Jonathan Vaughters' name was attached to the letter, along with their head of medicine and president Mary Wittenberg.
In Europe, Italy has arguably been hit the hardest by the spread of the virus, with almost 2,000 cases reported. Although EF First are required to race at World Tour events due to obligations of their licence, they say that they want to work with directors to guarantee safety and discuss a rescheduling plan.
Does this latest development mean the races are now doomed? More when we get it...
The UAE Tour have this morning confirmed that the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has announced six new cases of the COVID-19 virus in the UAE.
Although there was speculation from an Italian journalist that there hadn't been any official diagnosis, the statement says that two Russians, two Italians, one German and one Colombian have been diagnosed, and that the new patients were connected to the two previously announced cases at the UAE Tour.
MoHAP confirmed that the cases are being monitored, and individuals are currently in a stable condition and are receiving treatment. This also means that for the time being, some riders and staff are still stuck in quarantine in the UAE.
The report has some quite promising stats about the public's attitude towards investment in cycling, with 58% of the 17,000 surveyed believing there should be more investment in cycling, while 42% wanted more investment for drivers. 55% believed there were too many people driving in cities, and 56% agreed with the idea of charging more to drivers of heavily polluting vehicles. 68% supported the building of more cycle lanes even if this meant less road space, and 77% believed more segregated cycle lanes would encourage them to cycle more.
Full story with analysis of this from our news editor later today.
After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He was Staff Writer at 220 Triathlon magazine for two years before joining road.cc in 2017, and reports on all things tech as well as editing the road.cc live blog. He is also the news editor of our electric-powered sister site eBikeTips. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake.