With cases around the world and in Italy, the final stage of the Giro are in jeopardy. Will the 103rd Giro d’Italia make it to Milan?
Almost miraculously, the rescheduled Tour de France completed all three weeks of racing without losing a rider to COVID-19. By the time the race reached its conclusion in Paris, only support staff had tested positive, with the event itself largely immune from the virus. The race bubble was strict, and provided in almost eerie pictures of the peloton scaling some of the famous summits of the race with hardly a spectator in sight.
The success of the Tour buoyed ambitions for the Giro. At the beginning of the race in early October, Italy had been a shining success story; ravaged early, but with a dramatic drop in cases and a population largely committed to keeping cases down as well. As the race wore on, cases rose in other European countries, including neighboring France, sparking a series of renewed lockdown measures. As the race heads into its second weekend, however, both the peloton and the country face a completely new reality.
It all started with former GC favorite Simon Yates becoming the first rider to test positive in an event. Yates was immediately pulled from the race, but his Mitchelton-SCOTT teammates decided to race on. Just days later, more positives; Michael Matthews of Team Sunweb and Steven Kruiswijk of Team Jumbo-VISMA were the highest profile riders to catch the virus. Jumbo-VISMA quickly pulled their entire team, but Sunweb decided to leave their remaining riders and staff on the race.
Now, the race’s future is uncertain. Riders have voiced concern over the lack of a strict and secure bubble, saying that the general public and race organizers were mixing with racers in the opening days of the race, putting the whole operation at risk. At the conclusion of Thursday’s Stage 12, EF Pro Cycling has requested the race stop Monday, the second scheduled race day. According to Cyclingnews, that request has already been denied by the UCI, but neither side may have much say. As with the first race day, Monday’s stop will include mandatory testing for all the athletes, which could unearth more positive cases and all but assure the race will be halted before reaching the north of the country.
A number of the race’s remaining summit finishes are in doubt thanks to another major concern, the weather. With winter snow already falling in the mountainous regions in and around the Alps, some of the most critical stages would be cut or significantly altered.
Should the Giro be halted? Let us know in the comments.