With some Italian professional and amateur cycling races going ahead as scheduled and others being cancelled or postponed, the big question for cyclists is should they travel to attend a race during the COVID-19 worldwide situation.
Well, the World Tour level EF Pro Cycling team gave a clear unambiguous answer on Tuesday when it became the first pro team to pull out of three major Italian bike races in March, citing the USA Centers for Disease Control’s novel coronavirus guidelines to avoid all non-essential travel to Italy.
Team EF Pro Cycling will skip Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo, and Tirreno-Adriatico races to help limit the spread of infection. Milan-San Remo and Tirreno-Adriatico travel through the epicenter of the Italian outbreak – Tuscany and Lombardy.
“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 World Tour,” EF Pro Cycling announced.
Cycling events present perfect environments for virus transmission. Cyclists ride tightly packed together with coughing, spitting and nose blowing common place, while their immune systems are stretched to the limit and vulnerable. Throw cyclists in with government officials, fans, course marshals, police, etc. and cycling events have the potential to quickly spread a virus.
Of course now there is also the potential of being quarantined away from home in a strange location as occurred at the UAE Tour where six pro team members tested positive for coronavirus and three teams, including Team Cofidis, are now in quarantine until March 14 – or longer.
Thierry Vittu from Team Cofidis commented about the quarantine, “When we meet someone from the hotel in the corridor, he runs away. We are treated like plague victims; our rooms have not been made since we arrived five days ago, we have to go in front of the elevator, there is a cart and we help ourselves with sheets, soaps and towels.”