Yesterday morning, before the penultimate stage of the Tour de Suisse there was chaos. Numerous riders and teams were affected by Covid-19 positives and had to withdraw from the Tour de France warm-up.
The withdrawals had a major effect on the general classification with overnight race leader Aleksandr Vlasov forced to quit the Tour de Suisse, a day after winning the 5th stage. Bora-Hansgrohe also had Vlasov’s teammate Anton Palzer test positive and withdraw too.
Other teams affected were Alpecin-Fenix and Bahrain Victorious who pulled their entire teams from the race. Only one day after all of the Jumbo-Visma team left the Tour de Suisse as well.
“In the interest of the health of all riders and staff at the (Tour de Suisse), leaving the race is considered the most sensible decision by the team management and medical staff”Alpecin-Fenix
Education First-EasyPost had 4 positive tests themselves, including their star GC rider Rigoberto Urán. With the bulk of the team removed from the race, they gave the option to their pair of remaining riders, Neilson Powless and Jonas Rutsch to continue. The 2 riders took to the start of the stage.
The team of the Tour de France favourite Tadej Pogačar wasn’t able to escape the Covid-19 positives. Marc Hirschi tested positive yesterday morning and withdrew along with his teammate and roommate Joel Suter who was withdrawn as a precautionary close-contact.
“Unfortunately, like many other teams, we have also had a surge in COVID-19 cases”UAE team medical director Adrian Rotunno
The race organisers spoke to the teams and after discussions, the race was agreed to continue. There are large implications in the ongoing relegation fight with the new race leader, Jakob Fuglsang, a part of the Israel-Premier Tech team that desperately needs the points from winning this race.
The Tour de Suisse is one of the last events to prepare for the three-week Tour de France, which starts in two weeks.