"I have a lump in my throat when I hear sirens" - Giacomo Agostini

GP legend Giacomo Agostini reassures people he is safe from coronavirus but says he is feeling pain for the suffering of others around him`

Giacomo Agostini, Valentino Rossi, Maverick Vinales

Grand Prix legend Giacomo Agostini has given an emotional insight into the reality of quarantined life in northern Italy where the spread of the coronavirus has left thousands of people dead.

The Italian won a record 13 world championships during the 1960s and 70s, one of the most dangerous periods in motorcycle racing, but the 77-year old faces an entirely different threat now located in the epicentre of Europe’s vicious COVID-19 outbreak.

To date, more than 5,000 people have died in Italy from more than 60,000 cases as a result of the coronavirus but the impact has been felt particularly hard in northern Italy where the death total is around 3,500 people in the Lombardy region.

Located in Bergamo close to Milan, Agostini says he returned to his home as the outbreak was worsening to put himself into ‘house arrest’, where he says he will remain until it is safe to leave.

However, he says keeping himself safely isolated doesn’t limit the pain he feels for others when he sees ‘army trucks take coffins away’.

"It's terrible," Agostini told SkySport.it. "I decided to come back to Bergamo and stay under 'house arrest' because this is where I've lived for many years and all my things are here. I didn't want to go away.

"The situation is very critical: I have a lump in my throat at night when I hear the sirens passing by. It is a very sad situation, especially in Bergamo which is the epicentre."

He assures he is personally fine but says there is "a little fear, given the suffering the sick feel, the way they die... But I also have confidence, because I've shut myself in the house, I respect the rules, and everyone should respect them. It is a big sacrifice but if we all do it together, we will get out of it."

He also took aim at those who have gone against advice to stay indoors, calling them ‘stupid’ and saying it is up to ‘each of us to make a personal sacrifice’ for the wellbeing of others who may not be so lucky.

Agostini expects MotoGP to be slower on return

Turning his attentions to the 2020 MotoGP World Championship season whenever it gets underway, Agostini says he expects lap times to be slower initially as the riders dust off the rust and get back into the proper training that has been restricted by the stay at home orders.

He also believes riders will need to be careful not to take risks as picking up any injury could be hugely detrimental during what could be a rapid succession of back-to-back race weekends in the latter half of the year.

“They will all be a little less fit at the start: instead of lapping in 1'30 they will lap in 1'31, but the best will always win."

In the UK, it is still permitted to ride your motorcycle (at the time of writing) but group riding is strongly discouraged and anyone exhibiting symptoms must stay home. However, there are concerns a sharp rise in people making the most of the sun over the weekend will force the government to bring in stricter measures that could even disallow this unless it is for necessary supplies or transportation.