PARIS (Reuters) – World champion Mads Pedersen of Denmark has pulled out of the Paris-Nice race before the start of Saturday’s final stage after his country asked its nationals to come home amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“As a team we always said that we would respect the authorities in this emergency,” the Trek-Segafredo rider said in a team statement.

“My country has asked that all Danish nationals go home as soon as possible, so in agreement with the Team I’m not taking the start this morning to respect this decision.”

Denmark announced on Friday it would shut its borders to most foreign visitors for a month from Saturday, in a move unprecedented in peacetime as part of efforts to halt the spread of coronavirus.

The country of 5.7 million people has reported 801 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far and no deaths.

Paris-Nice is the last ongoing professional cycling race amid the coronavirus outbreak, which has prompted most sporting event organisers to suspend competitions across the globe, with Europe the most-affected continent.

Paris-Nice started last Sunday and with France having banned gatherings of more than 100 on Thursday, the race has been stripped of its final stage in Nice.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Tony Lawrence)

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