Milan-San Remo cycling race postponed because of coronavirus

Rome (AFP) –


The Milan-San Remo cycling race has become the latest sporting event in Italy to be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, the organisers announced on Friday.

The race's start town Milan is in Lombardy, a COVID-19 hot-spot, and so far 148 people have died from the outbreak in Italy.

The event was first staged in 1907 and has been cancelled three times previously, in 1916, 1945 and 1946.

The one-day event, scheduled to take place on March 21, was shelved alongside next week's Tirreno–Adriatico, a week-long stage race.

No alternative dates for either races have yet been given.

The Strade Bianchi, the first big race of the Italian cycling season set to for Saturday, was also cancelled Thursday.

The eagerly awaited Milan-San Remo covers an epic 291km and due to its great length is part of the prestigious so-called Monument races, very long one-day classics.

Elsewhere the Paris-Nice stage race in France is set to go ahead starting Sunday despite several top teams withdrawing due to fears over the virus.

Riders from the postponed and cancelled races have been scrambling to take part at Paris-Nice with Peter Sagan, Romain Bardet and Vincenzo Nibali all late entries.

Conversely fears of the virus caused several teams to pull out of Paris-Nice, namely British team Ineos, Spain's Movistar and on Friday afternoon Dutch team Jumbo, whose leader Primoz Roglic had been among the favourites to win.

Cycling was rocked last week when the UAE Tour was abandoned due to the coronavirus when two Italian mechanics were diagnosed to have the virus.

Four cycling teams and their riders are still in a lockdown quarantine in the Emirates including local outfit UAE, French teams Cofidis and FDJ, and the Russian team Gazprom.

A swathe of Italy's Serie A football matches have been cancelled and the Italian government has decreed that no fans be allowed to attend sporting events inside stadiums until April 3.