More teams quit racing as Astana pull out of Paris-Nice
Paris: Kazakh cycling team Astana on Thursday announced its decision not to race until March 20 due to fears over coronavirus, meaning they will miss Paris-Nice and two events in Italy.
Astana becomes the third team to pull the plug on Paris-Nice, which starts Sunday after Mitchelton and Ineos also said they would give it a miss.
As the coronavirus scare continued, the AG2R La Mondiale team said Thursday it would be pulling out of Italian racing up to and including the classic Milan-San Remo race on March 21.
Astana general manager Alexandr Vinokurov said concern for the health of the team came first.
"We have chosen to protect the health of our riders and staff and to take our responsibility for the society in not further spreading the virus," he said.
"Of course, we would have preferred to participate in all upcoming races, but for now, it's safety first. We still have a long season ahead with many other important races.
"It was not an easy decision, but we have to protect the cycling family as well as our own families at home." - AFP