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Jumbo-Visma to skip Strade Bianche as pressure grows for postponement

Joe Robinson
4 Mar 2020

Another team confirms they will skip Strade Bianche due to ongoing coronavirus concerns

Jumbo-Visma have confirmed they will skip Strade Bianche at the weekend as pressure intensifies on RCS to postpone the race in light of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

The Dutch WorldTour team became the first men's team to confirm they would skip the race hosted in Siena, Tuscany, siting recommendations from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the decision.

In a press release, team manager Richard Plugge confirmed the decision and that the team's primary responsibility was the health of riders and staff.

'Together with the management of our team, I am constantly considering and acting in the interest of the health and working conditions of our riders and staff members,' said Plugge.

'That includes, for example, preventing them from quarantine abroad. We have to look at the broader picture and take responsibility for the health of riders, staff and fans.'

Interestingly, the release also suggested a joint statement by various teams had stated: 'The focus has to be on salvaging the bulk of the season, not a handful of races.'

It then went on to state that further teams would make announcements on their participation soon.

While racing is still scheduled to take place in Italy this weekend, several teams have already announced they plan to not race. Education-First confirmed they have asked to be withdrawn from proceedings while women's team Parkhotel Valkenburg also confirmed it will skip Strade Bianche.

Additionally, reports have suggested that some teams have told riders not to travel to Italy as scheduled due to the high possibility Strade Bianche will be cancelled.

Race director Mauro Vegni has since admitted that Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo could be postponed to later in the season if the Italian government decides on stricter protocols to stop the spread of coronavirus.

It is believed that government officials are considering a range of measures including the wholesale cancellation of sporting events, although Vegni remains optimistic that cycling will not be affected.

'We're close to the dates for three big races: Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo and as we said a few days ago, our intention is to put on the races and so put on a show for the fans,' Vegni told Italian website Tuttobiciweb.

'However the news about the coronavirus that is emerging is clear: The indications from the (Italian) Scientific Committee leave little space for manoeuvre and if they are adopted by the government, we'll be forced to cancel the three races.'

In a later interview, Vegni then admitted he had 'an alternative plan so the races aren't lost' which could see the races held after the Giro d'Italia in June or September.