Cooped up cyclists eye return to roads

Mitchelton-Scott cycling team boss Matt White hopes for an April return to road training in Europe.
Mitchelton-Scott cycling team boss Matt White hopes for an April return to road training in Europe.

An Australian cycling team boss is concerned for the mental health of riders locked down in Europe by coronavirus, and hopes they can hit the roads during April.

Mitchelton-Scott sports director Matt White said about 90 per cent of his riders were into their third week of restrictions that meant they were only allowed outside to buy groceries and medicine.

The pandemic struck just as the European season was ready to launch, with the Giro d'Italia postponed and White among those questioning how safe a Tour de France in July could be, whether crowds attend or not.

Cyclists in Australia are still able to take to the roads, but Cycling Australia has recommended solo or indoor riding to minimise the chances of spreading the virus.

White's said his team, which includes British twins Adam and Simon Yates and Australian time trial champion Luke Durbridge, were doing their best to cope with the restrictions.

"So far so good; we're only a few weeks in but I'm sure it'll wear down on people as more time passes, not just riders but the general population," he said.

"One thing (we know) for sure, is that we're not racing in the month of April or May so the most positive possibility is racing in June.

"We hope for the areas such as Italy, Spain and France there is around two or so weeks to go and after that they will lessen the restriction on movement.

"Everyone understands why we are in complete lockdown and for a short period of time it's OK, but for an extended period I don't think that's healthy for the general population and we hope to see some ability for responsible exercise."

Durbridge is among those curbed in Spain and relying on virtual riding to stay sharp for a race return.

White said cyclists still able to ride outdoors had an advantage for now, but that the playing field should be levelled as long as they are given at least one month on the road before racing resumes.

"The guys who can get out on the road now can get out and do four, five-hour rides, which is the norm, while the guys at home are on the home trainer for an hour to 90 minutes at the most," White said.

"They are probably going at a bit higher intensity but they're just not able to do the volume of training they would normally, so we hope that towards the middle to end of April everyone can be back on the road to some degree."

Australian Associated Press