Mitchelton-SCOTT pull out of racing due to coronavirus risk

Mitchelton-Scott’s mens and womens teams have been withdrawn from racing, effective immediately.

The period of the withdrawal for the Australian WorldTour squad from racing will last until the 22 of March, which will include major races for the men of; Strade Bianche, Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan Sanremo. The women will miss out on key classics Strade Bianche, Ronde van Drenthe and Trofeo Alfredo Binda.

EF Education First, Team INEOS and Jumbo-Visma have also announced that they will be skipping races during the period and the Italian government has also announced that all sporting events will be cancelled up until April 3.

Strade Bianche organisers RCS Sport had still been planning to put on the men’s and women’s editions of Strade Bianche and next week’s Tirreno-Adriatico stage race because they are in central Italy, away from the northern regions of Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna where the virus has primarily taken hold.

The team released a statement addressing the issue.

“Following extensive discussions, Mitchelton-SCOTT has made the decision to withdraw its teams from the next period of racing, regardless of the individual Government Regulations in place.

The UCI and these races have each been notified of the decision. 

The main reasons for these withdrawals are listed below: 

  • We, as Team Doctors and the wider team, have a duty of care to protect health and wellbeing of all our riders and staff. We will not have any input into, or control over, the measures that race organisers may or may not put in place to manage the COVID-19 risks. 
  • We are a moving, international logistical puzzle, with staff and riders travelling between different countries with different health systems and strategies around COVID-19. Constant travel will increase the health risks and make management of logistics, potential quarantine periods, etc, extremely difficult. 
  • To withdraw any additional impact we as a team, either via illness or injury, may put on national and international health systems and hospitals.

Whilst we have put in all the preparations and are eager to race, as an organisation we believe this is the best way to ensure we adhere to our duty of care to riders and staff, before returning to business as usual as soon as possible.” 

The UCI hasn’t officially cancelled any races yet, but has said that they won’t penalise any WorldTour teams that opt not to race given the medical emergency.

“The decision has been taken not to proceed with the cancellation of any events at this stage. Any possible decision to cancel will be taken by the health authorities in the concerned regions depending on the evolution of the local situation and different risk factors identified. The organisers and all members of the cycling family will be obliged to comply to any such decision.

For the events still taking place, it has been decided that each organiser must take a certain number of measures with the aim of limiting to a maximum the risk of the coronavirus spreading further. These include increasing the distance between the public and riders, particularly in the start and finish zones; respecting a strict medical protocol, variable depending on the country, but in any case including a process for dealing with suspected cases and the provision of a detailed map of establishments capable of carrying out diagnostic tests for the coronavirus; limiting the number of teams staying in each hotel; respecting certain hygiene measures, for example avoiding the use of the same pen by riders signing in at the beginning of the race.”

With coronavirus cases continuing to grow worldwide and in cycling nations like Italy, there is serious concern for the future of the 2020 WorldTour season.