Team INEOS to temporarily stop racing after Nico Portal death and amid coronavirus concerns
Strade Bianche cancelled as several more teams withdraw from races in Italy and France
Last Updated: 05/03/20 9:27pm
Team INEOS are to temporarily withdraw from all racing until March 23 after the death of their sports director Nico Portal, and amid growing concern over the coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement released on Wednesday evening, the team said they would return to racing at the Volta a Catalunya and have notified the UCI of their decision.
It means they will not take part in Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, Nokere Koerse or Bredene Koksijde Classic.
On Tuesday it was announced their sports director and former rider Nicolas Portal had died at the age of 40.
The team said they had withdrawn from racing "first and foremost to look after our team members, their family and friends, who are all grieving for a much loved teammate and whose funeral will be taking place in the coming days".
They also said the had a "duty of healthcare to riders and staff in what is a very fast moving and challenging situation with coronavirus".
Team principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: "This is a uniquely sad moment for everyone at the team. We have lost someone we all loved very much and are all grieving for Nico.
"I would like to thank everyone for their messages following the tragic news yesterday. They have really meant a lot to us all as we try to come to terms with this terrible news.
"Nico meant the world to us as a Team and it is genuinely touching to know how much he also meant to everyone else across the sport.
"We are taking this decision to put a temporary pause on racing today because of this unique set of circumstances we are facing.
"Cycling is a uniquely mobile sport. We have a duty of care both to our riders and staff but also to the people living in the areas where we race. We do not want to be in a position where our riders become potentially infected or quarantined on race as has already happened.
"Equally we are acutely aware that these are difficult times for all local health services and we do not want to put any additional pressure or burden whatsoever upon them when all their focus should rightly be on their own local population."
In addition to Team INEOS, Mitchelton-Scott and EF Pro-Cycling six more teams have also announced they will not be sending riders to other races in Italy and France.
UAE Team Emirates, Jumbo-Visma, AG2R La Mondiale, Team Sunweb, Groupama FDJ and CCC Pro Team have all decided they will be skipping races in the next few weeks. Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-Sanremo will all be affected.
RCS Sport has agreed with the appropriate authorities, after the meeting at the Prefecture of Siena, to cancel #StradeBianche and Strade Bianche Women Elite (7 March). @rcssport will request the UCI, via the Italian Cycling Federation, to allocate a new date for the two races. pic.twitter.com/2UQyc70GN4— Strade Bianche (@StradeBianche) March 5, 2020
Strade Bianche, which had been scheduled to take place on Saturday has been cancelled by race organisers RCS.
"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 in a statement.
The European Cycling Union (UEC) said on Thursday that the BMX European Cup rounds in Verona on March 28 and 29 would also be postponed.