PARIS: Two positive novel coronavirus (Covid-19) cases within a week for a Tour de France team will result in the outfit being kicked out of the event starting on Aug 29, the race organisers said on Friday.
“If a team has two positive cases or [members] with strong symptoms within a seven-day period, they will be out of the race,” Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) said in a statement.
Earlier, sports directors who will be on the event running until Sept 20 confirmed a report by cycling website Velonews that the race would be over for teams who are found to have two infected members in their ranks. The measure concerns not only the riders, but other team staff inside the ‘race bubble.
“The measure was announced to us at the Criterium du Dauphine,” one sports director, who declined to be named because he is not authorised to discuss the matter, said.
The Criterium du Dauphine is also organised by ASO, who used the week-long race earlier this month as a dress rehearsal for the Tour de France.
Riders and team staff will be in a bubble from the day they arrive in Nice ahead of the Grand Depart on Saturday.
They will be tested for the coronavirus twice before the race starts, and a mobile testing lab will be at their disposal.
Tour director Christian Prudhomme said on Thursday that a rider testing positive for the coronavirus would be required to isolate, along with his room-mate, but that it would not lead to the race being abandoned.
The 2020 Tour will start in Nice. There are 28 teams each with eight riders but those in close contact in the bubble take the total to 25 to 30 people.
All the riders must undergo two PCR nasal tests in the days leading up to the start of the Tour.
“A first wave will be made on Saturday, Sunday and Monday,” said a Tour official explaining the tests were spread over three days because riders were competing in their national championships spread across Europe and over the weekend and riders are not tested on race day.”
He added a second wave of tests will also be staggered over three days — Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — because some riders will be competing in the European championships, which run from Monday to Thursday in Brittany.
A team can replace a rider who tests positive before the race.
France has seen a surge in Covid-19 cases recently, although the number of hospitalised people has remained stable.
On Friday, AG2r-la Mondiale said that American rider Larry Warbasse had tested positive for the coronavirus, leading the French team to pull the three riders who were in contact with him from the Tour du Limousin.
None of them were scheduled to ride the Tour de France.
Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2020