EF Pro Cycling requests withdrawal from Italian races amid coronavirus fears

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EF Pro Cycling has asked the UCI for permission to withdraw from Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo and Tirreno-Adriatico following concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the American team has sent a letter to the sport’s governing body requesting that it be allowed to skip the three Italian WorldTour races without penalty. The team reportedly wants to follow a recommendation from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that “all non-essential travel to Italy” be avoided.

“We think it best to follow this advice and make all efforts to keep our staff and riders healthy and to help ensure they are not at risk of transmitting the virus,” said EF’s letter, according to the Journal. “The team feels a responsibility to the greater public health efforts in place across affected areas, and we feel a responsibility to our fans and to the people of the towns and cities we travel to as part of the WorldTour.”

While there have been some suggestions that Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo and Tirreno-Adriatico will be cancelled, organiser RCS Sport said Monday that it was confident the races would go ahead. RCS Sport might not get to make the final decision, however — Italian media reports suggest that the Italian government might be set to enforce sweeping cancellations to sporting events.

As a UCI WorldTeam, EF Pro Cycling is obliged to take part in every race on the WorldTour calendar, including Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo and Tirreno-Adriatico. It’s not yet clear how the UCI has responded to EF Pro Cycling’s request to be excluded from the races without penalty.

The news of EF’s stance comes on the same day that health authorities in the UAE announced that a further six coronavirus cases had been detected among the UAE Tour contingent. Two Italian team staff had originally tested positive for the virus, prompting quarantine measures at the race hotels.

Some teams remain at the race hotel, several days after the race was brought to a premature end.

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