Sport, the most important of the least important things, can sometimes mirror life. To chart the speed with which the coronavirus epidemic in Italy went from a pressing concern to an outright catastrophe, one needs only to look at the rapid change in Mauro Vegni’s attitude to the prospect of having to cancel the 2020 Giro d’Italia.

On March 9, the Monday after the postponement of Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo had already been confirmed, the Giro director was bullish. “I don’t even want to think about such a possibility,” he said. By Thursday, with a nationwide lockdown enacted in Italy, the tone was already softening towards resignation. “Another date is possible,” he admitted.

A day later, prompted by a seemingly unscripted declaration from the Grande Partenza organising committee in Hungary, RCS Sport sadly confirmed the inevitable. The 2020 Giro would not start in Budapest on May 9 as planned. It might not even take place at all.

By then, the increasingly grim bulletins of confirmed cases and deaths provided by the government’s daily briefings meant that the postponement of Italy’s great bike race was simply one more reminder that there would be no immediate

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