Strade Bianche organisers expect the race to go ahead as planned on Saturday ©Getty Images

Organisers of the Strade Bianche insist the one-day cycling race will go ahead as planned despite a rise in the coronavirus infection rate forcing Siena to re-enter lockdown.

The Italian city in the Tuscany region has been placed in a red zone, meaning citizens must stay at home except for essential purposes while schools and non-essential shops have been shut.

The tough restrictions are expected to be in place until at least next week, raising question marks over the staging of the Strade Bianche on Saturday (March 6).

But race organiser RCS Sport said the lockdown did not alter its plan to hold the men’s and women’s cycling races.

"For now, the race is confirmed," a spokesperson from RCS Sport told Cycling News.

"Even though Siena is now classified as 'code red', that has no impact on the race, only on the public.

"Of course, anything can happen with the virus, but at the moment we have not yet received any notice that the race cannot take place."

Wout van Aert will be looking to defend the Strade Bianche title ©Getty Images
Wout van Aert will be looking to defend the Strade Bianche title ©Getty Images

A total of 1,163 coronavirus cases and 28 deaths were recorded in Tuscany in the past 24 hours, including 95 new infections and two fatalities in Siena.

Strade Bianche is set to be the first the event of the 2021 International Cycling Union Women’s WorldTour season.

Annemiek van Vleuten of The Netherlands won last year’s race, beating Spain’s Margarita Victoria García into second place.

Belgian Wout van Aert is the men’s defending champion as he prepares to make his first appearance of the road cycling season.

Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel, who was forced to pull out of last week's UAE Tour after a member of the Alpecin-Fenix team tested positive for coronavirus, is also expected to feature in Siena.

But Slovakian Peter Sagan, who tested positive for COVID-19 last month, will not be among the riders.