512 riders and team staff have tested negative after Giro d’Italia race organisers introduced an additional coroanvirus check before the stage 14 individual time trial.
Questions had been raised of whether the Italian Grand Tour would make it to its Milan finish after two teams pulled out following their GC contenders testing positive.
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Mitchelton-Scott had four members of team staff test positive on the first rest day after Simon Yates had withdrawn, the Brit having tested positive days before. Meanwhile, Jumbo-Visma only had one positive albeit their team leader Steven Kruijswijk, subsequently deciding to leave the race in order to protect the health of their riders and staff.
Race director Mauro Vegni had told Italian broadcaster RAI he wanted the race to reach Milan almost “at any price” on stage 10 before the uncertainty around the race only continued to increase. On stage 12, 17 police officers working on the Giro-E, an e-bike sportive that accompanies the Giro, tested positive for the virus, with concern growing of the race’s ability to maintain a ‘bubble’ around riders and team staff.
“I’d say at any price, excluding any major or medical problems. We knew holding the Giro in October was problematic, we’re doing all we can to make it to Milan with all the doubts and challenges,” Vegni said.
With the next PCR test scheduled for the second rest day on October 19, organisers RCS Sport introduced an additional antigen control to dampen fears the situation was beginning to get away from them, with EF Pro Cycling having written to the UCI to ask them to stop the Giro on the upcoming second rest day.
“RCS has introduced additional saliva antigen controls at the Giro d’Italia, in agreement with the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and the teams, to reinforce the health measures provided for in the UCI protocol in compliance with the measures of the Ministry of Health of Italy,” the UCI statement read. “In the event of a positive salivary test result, a PCR test is carried out to validate the result.”
The peloton will now take on the stage 14 individual time trial followed by the mountainous stage 15 featuring a first category summit finish. Then, riders and team staff will undergo their second PCR test before the final week of racing.