Alpecin-Fenix have confirmed that they are leaving the UAE Tour after a staff member tested positive for coronavirus.
The team from Belgium won stage one with Mathieu van der Poel on Sunday (February 21) but it was revealed on Monday that a staff member of the team has tested positive for the virus and went into isolation immediately.
In a joint statement from the race and the team they said: “Alpecin-Fenix, in agreement with the UAE Tour organiser, have decided to withdraw its team from the race, in order to safeguard the race bubble and ensure the safe continuation of the race.
“The team was notified of one positive result of a member of its staff from the round of tests conducted on Sunday evening, February 21.
“Upon receiving the results, the person immediately went into isolation, and all those who came into contact with this person are self-isolating, in compliance with the protocol measures put in place by the race organisers and UAE Health Authorities. All team members will undertake further tests in the coming days, while they remain in isolation.”
Last year’s race saw the final two stages cancelled due to the Coronavirus with riders, staff members and organisers all catching the virus, which meant that everyone had to quarantine in their hotel.
The riders are based in the same hotel this year at the Yas Marina circuit, used for the penultimate round of the Formula One championships, on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi.
Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) was given the win after taking a stage on the first ascent of the Jebel Hafeet climb, which is due to be ridden tomorrow (February 23) at this year’s event, before he then defended the jersey for Mitchelton-Scott a couple of days later.
This year’s race kicked off with mayhem, but in a racing way, as the win whipped through the field, splitting it to piece with echelons all over the road.
Eventually seeing Deceuninck – Quick-Step and several other strong riders get away, they stayed away to bettle out the sprint with Dutch road race champion, Van der Poel taking the win ahead of young rider David Dekker (Jumbo-Visma).