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Bahrain-McLaren withdraw from Paris-Nice due to coronavirus concerns

Joe Robinson
13 Mar 2020

Team reach decision to leave race early as precautionary measure

Bahrain-McLaren have become the first team to pull out of Paris-Nice mid-race due concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic as rumours suggest race will stop after Saturday.

The team announced on Friday morning that it would not start Stage 6 from Sourges to Apt after reaching a mutual decision with the team's riders, staff and sponsors. 

In a press release, the team wrote, 'Bahrain-McLaren has with regret today withdrawn from the 2020 Paris-Nice road race.'

'Following consultation with the team’s riders, medical staff and other stakeholders, and in light of the rapidly escalating public health risks associated with the Covid-19 virus, the decision has been taken to repatriate all team personnel to their homes as soon as possible. Rolling restrictions on movement across Europe and the health of the entire team mean this precautionary measure is an immediate priority.

'Team Bahrain-McLaren wishes to thank the UCI, the ASO, the AIGCP and its competitor teams for their understanding and support at this time. The team extends its appreciation to its partners and the many thousands of passionate fans and communities that have supported all of the riders throughout this great race.'

The team will leave the race having taken victory on Stage 3 with Spanish rider Ivan Garcia Cortina.

In the build-up to this week's event, a collection of WorldTour teams had already decided to skip Paris-Nice due to the coronavirus spread around Europe.

Team Ineos, CCC, Mitchelton-Scott, UAE-Team Emirates, Astana and Jumbo-Visma all made the decision to suspend racing until the end of March. Despite that, the race went ahead as planned.

Earlier this week, the French government but a ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people in order to help contain the spread of the virus.

This did not directly affect Paris-Nice but the race did agree to adhere to stricter rules around crowds and hygiene, notably not allowing any fans at the start or finish of each stage.

As the race goes further south and gets closer to Nice on the French Rivera coast, it gets closer to Italy, the European country worst affected by the virus so far which also is currently in lockdown. 

Rumours among the peloton suggest that few believe the race will reach its climax on Sunday in Nice however race organisers ASO has remained defiant the race would continue through to its conclusion.

Local reports on Friday morning, however, suggested that the race would continue until the end of Stage 7 to Colmiane on Saturday before ending the race one day short.

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