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Coronavirus could lead to Milan-San Remo cancellation, organiser confirms

Milan San Remo history
Joe Robinson
24 Feb 2020

Sudden outbreak in Italy has led to mass cancellation of sporting events and town lockdowns

A rise in coronavirus cases in Italy could put Strade Bianche, Milan San Remo and Tirreno-Adriatico in doubt, race organiser Mauro Vegni has admitted.

Over the weekend, there was a surge in confirmed cases that saw over 150 people diagnosed mainly in the northern region of Lombardy. There was also the second and third confirmed deaths from the virus in Italy.

Italy now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases outside of Asia.

This forced the Italian government to take drastic action with several towns and regions in the Lombardy region being put into lockdown. It also saw authorities suspend all sporting events in Lombardy and neighbouring Veneto regions.

On Saturday, Italian prime minister Guiseppe Conte released a statement saying: 'Minister of Sport [Vincenzo] Spadafora intends to suspend all sporting events planned for Sunday in the Veneto and Lombardy regions.'

This saw a host of football games cancelled including Inter Milan's game against Sampdoria in Milan and Torino's game against Parma in the region of Piedmont. Scotland's visit to Italy in the women's rugby Six Nation was also cancelled.

There are now plans for the cancellation of sports events to be extended which could have knock-on effects to Italy's spring races.

Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico kick off in early March and while not in the affected regions currently, these races may be affected if cases worsen. The bigger concern for organiser RCS is Milan-San Remo that starts in the region of Lombardy.

Although over three weeks away, Vegni is worried that they could be forced to cancel as there is no Plan B in place.

'We at RCS Sport are very worried about the spread of the epidemic because the situation in Italy is really difficult. Our first concerns are the Tirreno-Adriatico and above all the Milan-San Remo scheduled in less than a month, so there are no organisational plans and B plans,' explained Vegni to Corriere dello Sport.

'If the government extends the blockade of sport in Milan and in Lombardy we would be forced to cancel it, it makes no sense to move the start by 20/50 kilometres: the race has been on the same route for 110 years. I hope that the peak of cases will go down.'

Beyond Milan-San Remo, Vegni also admitted that he has some concern for the Giro d'Italia. Although not starting until May, he admits they have little control of the entire situation.

'At the moment, I can't say anything about the Giro d'Italia, but it is clear that if the peak does not mitigate, the risks that [the race] cannot take place are there.'

The coronavirus has already hit cycling forcing the postponement of the men's Tour of Hainan and women's Tour of Chongming Island.