European spring racing will have an entirely different aesthetic in 2020… if they go ahead at all. Team Ineos is the latest to announce that it will not be contesting events that were originally on the schedule this March.

It has been a difficult few days for the British-registered WorldTour outfit, Team Ineos. Yesterday they mourned the passing of the charismatic ‘Nico’ Portal who suffered a cardiac arrest at his home in Andorra, aged 40.

Today, the team issued a release stating that it would not be contesting some races in March because of concerns surrounding COVID-19.

“Team Ineos have today taken the decision to withdraw temporarily from all racing until the Volta a Catalunya on March 23,” begins the release. “We have notified the UCI that we will not be competing in any races during this period.”

The impact of the emotions surrounding Portal’s passing is also referenced as one of the reasons for this unprecedented action: “We have taken this decision given the unique set of circumstances we are facing following yesterday’s tragic news about Nico Portal. And clearly we recognise there is also a very uncertain situation with Coronavirus more widely.”

The release lists six events that will not be contested by Team Ineos, with the simple statement: “We will not be racing the following races…”

  • Strade Bianche (Italy) 7 March
  • Paris-Nice (France) 8-15 March
  • Tirreno-Adriatico (Italy) 11-17 March
  • Milan-San Remo (Italy) 21 March
  • Nokere Koerse (Belgium) 18 March
  • Bredene Koksijde Classic (Belgium) 20 March

The explanation for the decision by Team Ineos is as follow:

    • Wanting 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.
    • Recognising also our duty of healthcare to riders and staff in what is a very fast moving and challenging situation with Coronavirus. We have taken the best medical advice and recognise that these are exceptional times for everyone – beyond just cycling.
    • Appreciating our wider responsibilities to local communities through which we would travel and the current burden on the public health authorities within them who are dealing with a challenging and unprecedented situation.
    • Acknowledging the unique mobile nature of cycling with its travelling peloton of riders and staff across towns and regions.