‘It’s a shame to be out of the game’: Michael Matthews just happy to be healthy after false positive at Giro d’Italia

The Australian was forced to withdraw from the Italian Grand Tour following a positive coronavirus test but has subsequently returned two negative tests

Michael Matthews says it’s a shame to be out of the Giro d’Italia after a false positive Covid-19 result but is ultimately happy to be healthy and not have contracted the virus.

“On the first rest day of the Giro I tested positive and the same day I was taken off the race. The next morning I took another test and it turned out negative. That was good news. On Wednesday I got another PCR test and it was also negative. Of course, I am very happy with that,” Matthews said in a video message posted on his Instagram.

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“But most importantly I am healthy, just like my team and the peloton around me – because all tests came out negative. On the one hand, it is a shame to be out of the game but I am happy that I am fit and healthy and that I do not have Covid-19. On Monday, I will undergo another test. So hopefully it is also negative and I am 110 percent corona free.”

These additional negative results, while frustrating for Matthews, will be welcomed by his team-mate Wilco Kelderman, who currently sits second place on GC, 40 seconds down on race leader João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).

>>> No further positives at Giro d’Italia after 512 riders and staff undergo additional coronavirus test

“They are doing very well. We rode very well until the rest day. Since then they have continued their fight for the pink,” Matthews added.

Meanwhile, Sunweb’s Tiesj Benoot was forced to skip Gent-Wevelgem after he had sat at the same dinner table as fellow pro rider Jan Bakelants, who’s season ended prematurely after he tested positive for the coronavirus last week.

“They regarded it as a ‘positive contact’. You can discuss this, but according to the protocol of the UCI and the teams, the team made the only right decision,” Benoot told  Het Laatste Nieuws. “I watched Gent-Wevelgem on TV. Nice to see, but I would have preferred to race it myself. Especially since it was one of the toughest finals in years.

“Anyway, it happened and I can’t do anything about it anymore.”

Instead, Benoot will turn his attention to the Tour of Flanders, where he has recorded three top 10 finishes previously.

“I feel ready. You have Van Aert and Van der Poel. Below that is a large group of 15, 20 riders who have a chance. I include myself in that,” Benoot said.