Tuesday morning saw the Tour de France peloton rocked by covid positives, just one day after the Tour de France confirmed there were zero covid tests returned positive a day earlier.
It was the Team UAE Emirates that took the bulk of the attention. New Zealander George Bennett left the race with a positive test result, with his teammate Rafal Majka also testing positive but allowed to start. It’s a relatively new adaptation to the rules that a positive isn’t an instant withdrawal. Majka’s test showed he had a low viral count and so shouldn’t be contagious. It feels like a risk still but those are the current rules in place.
“On Monday he was tested as per internal protocols of the team and returned a positive result. This was confirmed with a PCR test, therefore he will not start today.”Adrian Rotunno, Team UAE Emirates team doctor
Last year, if two members of a team tested positive for COVID the whole outfit would be sent packing, which is not the case in this edition. Whether a rider who tests positive can stay in the race is decided following a meeting between the race, International Cycling Union (UCI) and team doctors, depending on the rider’s viral load.
The team already lost Vegard Stake Laengen on Saturday to a positive test, so whilst the riders are all staying in separate rooms, the riders are still being affected. Team UAE Emirates is down to 6 riders heading into the Alps this week. Their grip on the yellow jersey is still solid with 39 seconds advantage ahead of the Dane Jonas Vingegaard.
They weren’t alone, however. Team BikeExchange-Jayco’s Luke Durbridge also left the Tour de France today with a positive Covid test.
“Unfortunately Luke Durbridge has tested positive for COVID-19 this morning. Durbridge has very mild symptoms & will not start today’s stage 10.”Team BikeExchange-Jayco statemennt
The withdrawal of Durbridge and Bennett means that 5 riders have left this year’s Tour de France due to Covid. A couple of journalists also left the race today after testing positive too.
Today’s 10th stage is a 148-km mountain trek to Megeve.