Paris-Nice cancels final stage, set to finish on Saturday

Bahrain-Merida decided not to start Friday's stage just as organizers and teams agreed to end the race a day early

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Paris-Nice will end a day early after officials agreed to finish the race with Saturday’s summit finale.

“In agreement with the authorities, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and the City of Nice, the organizers of Paris-Nice have decided to judge the finish of the race tomorrow, Saturday, at the end of the 7th stage in Valdeblore-La Colmiane,” a statement read. “The decision, made in the context of the reinforced fight against the propagation of the coronavirus epidemic, cancels the final stage originally scheduled to take place around Nice on Sunday.”

The decision to continue the race comes following the decision by Bahrain-McLaren to not start Friday’s stage.

The team is the first to decide not to start Friday’s sixth stage at the French WorldTour race. A slew of recent race cancelations and the growing clampdown across Europe in light over a growing coronavirus health crisis is putting the race in the crosshairs.

The team’s departure comes on the heels of a tense night among teams, riders and organizers. In light of growing restrictions across Europe, riders and staffers are worried about being able to return to their homes.

According to Het Nieuwsblad, the teams voted via the cycling union CPA to continue to race until the end of Saturday’s stage. Het Nieuwsblad reported that 11 teams voted to continue, five voted against. A compromised was reached, and everyone decided to conclude the race Saturday.

Philippe Mauduit, sport director at Groupama-FDJ, said teams are committed to finishing the race so long as it is considered safe and that the health officials allow it.

“The thing is really serious. The show must go on, but we must not to do stupid things. If we have to stop the race, we will,” Mauduit told reporters at the start Friday. “It’s a bit chaotic. People are talking about things they don’t know. There are a lot of rumors. The team is referring to the authorities. [French] President Macron said that activity must go on as long as it’s safe. We are not in a stadium, we are not in a little room. We are outside. Of course, there is a risk to continue, but not more than yesterday or 15 days ago.”

Also overnight, a staff member of Bora-Hansgrohe was checked for possible infection of the coronavirus and has been placed in isolation.

“During the night, one of our employees displayed symptoms of a cold. Our on-site doctor then informed the race doctor, according to the official guidelines set down by the organiser, as well as current international guidelines,” a team statement said. “The local authorities then carried out an examination, which showed that the employee did not display any typical symptoms that would indicate a Covid-19 infection. According to the authorities, no further measures are necessary. The team has nevertheless decided to isolate the employee, as a precautionary step, and to continue actively monitoring the situation in order ensure maximum safety for all concerned.”

Here is the Bahrain-McLaren team statement:

“Team Bahrain-McLaren has with regret today withdrawn from the 2020 Paris-Nice road race.

“Following consultation with the team’s riders, medical staff and other stakeholders, and in light of the rapidly escalating public health risks associated with the Covid-19 virus, the decision has been taken to repatriate all team personnel to their homes as soon as possible. Rolling restrictions on movement across Europe and the health of the entire team mean this precautionary measure is an immediate priority.

“Team Bahrain McLaren wishes to thank the UCI, the ASO, the AIGCP and its competitor teams for their understanding and support at this time. The team extends its appreciation to its partners and the many thousands of passionate fans and communities that have supported all of the riders throughout this great race.”

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