Tour de France: Covid-19 approaches Tadej Pogacar

CYCLING – The Covid-19 rope has been tightened a little more around the yellow jersey of the Tour de France, Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, who on Tuesday 12 July lost to his second teammate, New Zealander George Bennett, ahead of the 10th stage in Morzine.

Pogacar had already witnessed, on Saturday 9 July, the departure of the Norwegian Vegard Stake Laengen within the Emirati squad that included eight riders at the start of the event like his competitors.

The day after all the negative tests were announced, this Sunday, for the Tour competitors, two riders got the opposite result. Australian Luke Dorbridge (BikeExchange), who was showing mild symptoms, also left the race.

France’s Geoffrey Bouchard and Guillaume Martin had to leave the Tour for this reason last weekend.

In addition to the regulatory controls implemented by the UCI, as per the revised protocol at the end of June, the various teams conduct internal testing frequently. Every day for some, at intervals of two or three days for others.

‘Covid can destroy everything’

This Saturday, after departure from Laengen, Pogacar stated: “We test ourselves every three days, some every two days. It’s really a worrying situation. Covid can destroy everything on the tour.”

“This pandemic is there and unfortunately we didn’t survive, the yellow jersey and the favorite of the tour. We can’t risk getting sick so we have to take this seriously. We are on the road every day. In the mountains there are a lot of people cheering. It’s something I really love. However, it increases the chances of contracting the virus.

After a series of abandonments recorded at the Tour de Suisse in mid-June, the anti-Covid protocol before the start of the Tour was updated by the International Cycling Union (UCI). In the event of a positive result, the protocol states that “the decision on potential isolation will be taken collectively by the relevant team physician, the event’s Covid-19 physician and the UCI medical director.”

Lateness

After the first cases, several team bosses, notably Mark Madiot (Groupama-FDJ), asked organizers to take additional measures to reduce risks.

Before starting in Copenhagen, Tour director Christian Prudhomme invited runners into the tour to avoid autographs and selfies, but on the tour, mask-wearing is only mandatory for approved people who have to deal with the runners.

“There is a gap between life in general, with people who have fallen behind on Covid a little bit, and the need to be extra careful on the Tour,” the Tour Director admitted, on Monday, during the rest day. If teams call for stricter measures, their daily guests are far from wearing masks, an AFP journalist present at the race noted on Saturday.

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