Does the Giro d'Italia run the risk of being cancelled? There are two ways it could happen. First, some background.
WHAT HAPPENED? WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Mitchelton-Scott and Team Jumbo-Visma have withdrawn from the Giro d’Italia after positive Covid-19 results following the latest round of testing. Jumbo-Visma initially announced that their team leader Steven Kruijswijk had tested positive but were expected to start Stage 10. However, later on Tuesday it was announced that the Dutch team would withdraw.
All team members – both riders and staff – were tested over the course of October 11 and 12, between Stage 9 and Stage 10. Of the 571 tests performed, two riders – one each from Team Jumbo-Visma (Kruijswijk) and Team Sunweb (Matthews) – tested positive, while six staff members, four from Mitchelton-Scott and one each from Ineos Grenadiers and Team Ag2r-La Mondiale returned positive tests, a statement on the Giro website said.
What happened next? Well, Stage 10 started as normal...
GIRO DIRECTOR ON RACE’S COVID CRISIS: 'I DON’T THINK IT’S A BIG RISK'
Giro d’Italia director Mauro Vegni downplayed fears over the future of the race – just moments before Team Jumbo-Visma became the second team to withdraw on Tuesday.
The future of the race hangs in the balance but Vegni insisted the race could make it to the finish in Milan.
"I don’t think there's a big risk," he said.
“There are a number of cases, but we’ve already done 1,500 tests for Covid-19. The result is there’s a team more concerned than others [Mitchelton-Scott] but for other teams we only really have good news. So I don’t think there’s a big risk.
"For now, there are only a few riders that have come back as Covid positive and the rest of the negative riders are ready to race.
It’s like in everyday life – the more you test, the more you find positive cases. Now the number of the cases seems low to me and we’re confident.
Race director Mauro Vegni: The impact Covid-19 has on Giro is impossible to control
He added to RAI: "Losing a team is a sorrow and a regret, but by mutual agreement with the staff of Mitchelton-Scott, we made the most correct decision also from an ethical point of view.
“For all of us the goal remains to arrive in Milan. We are doing everything possible to pull off this Giro in October, and to bring it to conclusion with dignity and fairness.
AT WHAT POINT WOULD THE GIRO BE CANCELLED/SUSPENDED?
Reportedly, two scenarios which could lead to the Giro's suspension/cancellation are:
- a high and uncontrollable number of positives on a rest day
- a decision from the Italian Government to call off the race
The next rest day is on October 19 ahead of Stage 16 (Udine - San Daniele del Friuli).
HOW DO GIRO RULES COMPARE WITH TOUR DE FRANCE?
At the Tour de France, two positive tests in a team within one week would have triggered the ejection of the outfit from the race but no such rule was put in place for the Italian Grand Tour, which started in Sicily on October 3.
Italy, which hosted the rescheduled world championships last month, has seen a recent rise in coronavirus cases, with a post-lockdown record 5,456 people infected registered last Saturday.
Elite racing resumed in August after a four-and-a-half month hiatus, but the resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe has forced local authorities and organisers to cancel races, such as the Netherlands’ Amstel Gold Race, which had been scheduled for Saturday, and Paris-Roubaix, the 'Monument' classic, that was due to be raced on October 25.
Jumbo-Visma sports director: 'Health is the priority, it would be irresponsible to continue'
WHAT IF THE RACE CANNOT BE COMPLETED?
According to ASO's rulebook (article 24) the race has to complete 21 stages for the General Classification to be awarded while the RCS says the race will finish in Milan without alluding to the GC.
So at the moment a rule may have to be devised to confirm what happens to the GC should there be an uncontrollable number of Covid-19 cases before reaching the final stage in Milan.
Additional reporting from Reuters.