The quarantine of riders, staff and media at the UAE Tour is set to end after the 167 coronavirus tests carried out came back negative.
Around 600 people involved in the race were placed under lockdown in their hotels and the WorldTour stage race was cancelled with two days remaining after two people were reported to have been infected with the virus.
According to journalist Sophie Smith, authorities have been making calls telling people if they tested negative they can return home or stay in quarantine in the UAE for two weeks.
Those under quarantine will remain so until they receive government-issued paperwork that certifies their negative test result. Apparently, people will only be able to fly back to the country they hold a passport for.
Paperwork is expected to begin being delivered from Sunday morning and with the race originally scheduled to end with stage seven on Saturday, some riders will likely have their flights rescheduled or new ones booked if they weren’t originally intending to return to their country of origin.
In the 48 hours following the beginning of the lockdown, spirits have remained high among riders and staff, with Trek-Segafredo crowding into one room to watch their rider Jasper Stuyven take the first victory of the spring Classics at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Sam Bennett and Shane Archbold have been keeping themselves entertained with the inaugural coronavirus quarantine bedroom games. Israel Start-Up Nation’s Alex Dowsett has also been planning an alternative UAE Tour around the motorsport track, which would pay homage to the UCI Track World Championships that are currently taking place in Berlin, Germany.
Michael Mørkøv was originally at the UAE Tour before quitting mid-way through the race to head to the Track Worlds, but “felt guilty” after he worried he may have spread the coronavirus to his Danish team-mates.
Mørkøv was eventually cleared to race in Berlin after the UCI said it had been “guaranteed” he had not been in contact with the two individuals suspected to have the virus at the UAE Tour.
The fact that staff, including those working for race organisers RCS, will soon be allowed to leave is good news for the upcoming Italian races in March. RCS also organise Strade Bianche, scheduled for Saturday March 7, as well as Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan – San Remo and there were fears these events wouldn’t be able to go ahead with the race organisers quarantined in a hotel on another continent.