Strade Bianche and Gran Fondo Strade Bianche, which had been due to take place this weekend, have been cancelled in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus Covid-19. Event organiser RCS Sport may well also cancel upcoming races Milan-Sanremo and Tirreno-Adriatico after the Italian government called a halt to public sporting events for a month.
In a statement last night, RCS Sport said: “Following the Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic of 4 March 2020, RCS Sport announces that the Gran Fondo Strade Bianche scheduled for 8 March is cancelled. The details of the new date will be communicated in the future.”
The statement went on to say that RCS Sport would “communicate the updates and details” about upcoming Italian pro races in coming days following meetings with the authorities.
Today, after meeting the Prefecture of Siena, it confirmed that the elite Strade Bianche races would be postponed.
"RCS Sport has agreed with the appropriate authorities to cancel the two cycling races scheduled for Saturday 7 March: Strade Bianche and Strade Bianche Women Elite.
"RCS Sport will request the UCI, via the Italian Cycling Federation, to allocate a new date on the international cycling calendar for Strade Bianche and Strade Bianche Women Elite."
Italian sports events have not entirely been banned, but an order that they take place behind closed doors without the presence of the public has obvious ramifications for bike races held on open roads.
The government statement said: "There will be no sporting events with the presence of the public in order to prevent further contagion opportunities.
"Sports events and competitions of all kinds and disciplines, held in every place, both public and private, are suspended; however it is permitted to carry out the aforementioned events and competitions behind closed doors, or outdoors without the presence of the public.
"In all such cases, the associations and sports clubs, by means of their medical staff, are required to carry out the appropriate checks to contain the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus among athletes, technicians, managers and all accompanying persons who participate."
Some of cycling’s top teams had already delayed travel to Italy as they awaited clarification on whether or not events would go ahead.
As we reported on our live blog yesterday, EF Pro Cycling boss Jonathan Vaughters has pulled his team from the three races due to coronavirus, while Deceuninck-Quick Step, Jumbo-Visma and CCC have all delayed their departure.
This morning Team Ineos pulled out of all racing until March 23, citing coronavirus and also the recent death of sports director Nicolas Portal.
Doctors from 14 UCI WorldTour team have written to race organisers RCS Sport calling on the trio of Italian races to be cancelled, outlining four key reasons why they believe that is the correct course of action.
In a statement last night, the UCI said: “The decision has been taken not to proceed with the cancellation of any events at this stage. 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.”