• Richie Porte wins the 2015 Paris-Nice. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Paris-Nice will go ahead despite the withdrawal of WorldTour teams Astana, CCC, Ineos, Mitchelton-Scott and UAE due to coronavirus concerns. Watch Paris-Nice 2020 LIVE on SBS and streaming via SBS On Demand 8-15 March.
By
Cycling Central

6 Mar 2020 - 9:55 AM  UPDATED 7 Mar 2020 - 4:40 PM

The coronavirus continues to impact the world of cycling as teams refuse to line-up for races and organisers cancel races.

In Italy, the nation most impacted by the outbreak outside China, RCS Sport cancelled Saturday's Strade Bianche. 

"RCS Sport will request the UCI (International Cycling Union), via the Italian Cycling Federation, to allocate a new date on the international cycling calendar for Strade Bianche and Strade Bianche Women Elite," RCS said Thursday (AEDT). 

But Paris-Nice will proceed 8-15 March despite five out of the 19 WorldTour teams withdrawing from the race including Ineos, the team of defending champion Egan Bernal who was set for a return. However, Bernal's team said its withdrawal was partly out of respect for dearly loved DS Nicolas Portal who died earlier this week.

Team Ineos sporting director Portal dies aged 40
Team Ineos sporting director Nicolas Portal has died at the aged of 40, his team confirmed in a statement on Wednesday (AEDT).

Instead, race organisers ASO invited two extra wild-card teams (B&B Vital Concept and Circus Wanty Gobert) and will allow all teams an extra rider to form a 136-rider (rather than the original 154) pack. 

In announcing their decision to withdraw from Paris-Nice, several DS' sang from a similar song sheet.

"We have chosen to protect the health of our riders and staff and to take our responsibility for the society in not further spreading the virus," said Alexandre Vinokourov team manager of Astana who have withdrawn from racing until March 20.

Team Ineos latest to withdraw from all racing
Team Ineos have followed in the footsteps of Australian outfit Mitchelton-Scott announcing they will withdraw from all racing until the Volta a Catalunya.
Mitchelton-Scott withdraw from all racing due to coronavirus concerns
Mitchelton-Scott has pulled the plug on all men’s and women’s racing after announcing it will be withdrawing from all events with immediate effect until at least March 22 due to the worsening coronavirus outbreak in Europe.
 

CCC director Jim Ochowicz said he is frustrated by the lack of direction and leadership from cycling's governing body on this issue.

"We wish to express our ongoing support for both the ASO and RCS," he said. 

"However, we stand disappointed with the lack of direction by the UCI at this critical moment in the sport as all men’s and women’s teams have been left to fend for themselves.”

“It was not a simple decision to withdraw from Paris-Nice (and Tirreno-Adriatico). We are acting in the best interests of our riders and staff, and taking responsibly to reduce the risk of transmission at these stage races. 

RCS has not yet announced if Milan-Sanremo and Tirreno-Adriatico will go ahead this month but a number of teams like CCC have already withdrawn including some still lining up for Paris-Nice like Jumbo-Visma and AG2R.

Groupama-FDJ says it can't participate at Tirreno-Adriatico because its resources are weakened by riders and staff still in quarantine in the UAE after six cases of coronavirus cases were directed at that nation's race.   

Despite a two-week incubation period for the coronavirus, a bulk of riders, teams and press mind boggingly were allowed to escape long term quarantine, freely travelling to various countries after the UAE Tour where confirmed cases were reported.

Six more coronavirus cases detected at UAE Tour
Another six cases of coronavirus have been confirmed by UAE Tour organisers, all linked to the intial two cases of Covid-19 which caused the event to end prematurely last week.

With races an ideal environment for the spread of viruses, this is not a problem that will go away any time soon for cycling. 

How to watch Paris-Nice 2020:

Sunday 8 March - Stage 1 Plaisir to Plaisir (154km) - LIVE streaming to ALL via Cycling Central / SBS On Demand and LIVE on SBS (Eastern only) 11:40pm - 1:10am 

Tuesday 10 March - Stage 2 Chevreuse to Chalette-sur-Loing (166.5km) - LIVE streaming to ALL via Cycling Central / SBS On Demand and LIVE on SBS (Eastern and Central) 0:40am - 2:40am 

Wednesday 11 March - Stage 3  Chalette-sur-Loing › La Châtre (212.5km) - LIVE streaming to ALL via Cycling Central / SBS On Demand and LIVE on SBS (Eastern and Central) 0:40am - 2:40am 

Thursday 12 March - Stage 4 (ITT) Saint-Amand-Montrond (15.1km) - LIVE streaming to ALL via Cycling Central / SBS On Demand and LIVE on SBS (Eastern and Central) 0:40am - 2:40am 

Friday 13 March - Stage 5 Gannat to La Côte-Saint-André (227km)  - LIVE streaming to ALL via Cycling Central / SBS On Demand and LIVE on SBS (Eastern and Central) 0:40am - 2:40am 

Saturday 14 March - Stage 6 Sorgues to Apt (160.5km) - LIVE streaming to ALL via Cycling Central / SBS On Demand and LIVE on SBS (Eastern and Central) 0:40am - 2:40am 

Saturday 14 March - Stage 7 Nice to Valdeblore La Colmiane (166.5km) (Sat 14 Mar) - LIVE streaming to ALL via Cycling Central / SBS On Demand and LIVE on SBS (Eastern only) 11:25pm - 1:10am 

Sunday 15 March - Stage 8  Nice to Nice (!33.5km) - LIVE streaming to ALL via Cycling Central / SBS On Demand and LIVE on SBS (Eastern only) 11:30pm - 1:10am 

Who is racing the 78th edition of Paris-Nice?

Peter Sagan, Elia Viviani, Wout van Aert, Michael Woods and Romain Bardet are confirmed, despite not being in the initial lists.

The new signups add to a strong roster of riders already set to race including Thibaut Pinot, Julian Alaphilippe, Nairo Quintana, Primoz Roglic, Warren Barguil, Sergio Higuita as well as some of the strongest chances for stage wins; Caleb Ewan, Sam Bennett and World Champion Mads Pedersen.

Teams: AG2R La Mondiale, Arkéa-Samsic, Bahrain-McLaren, B&B Hotels-Vital Concept, Bora-Hansgrohe, Circus-Wanty Gobert, Cofidis, Deceuninck-Quick Step, EF Pro Cycling, Groupama-FDJ, Israel Start-Up Nation, Lotto-Soudal, Nippo Delko Provence, NTT Pro Cycling Team, Sunweb, Total Direct Energie, Trek-Segafredo