Groupama-FDJ have had to pull out from racing at the Belgian one-day race of Scheldeprijs due to a positive Coronavirus test within the team.
The French squad were set to start with their star sprinter and French champion, Arnaud Démare, who recently took his first win of the season at La Roue Tourangelle where he beat Nacer Bouhanni (Akéa-Samsic) to the line.
The team put out a short Tweet earlier this morning (April 7) saying: “We will not take the start of the Scheldeprijs this Wednesday, due to the positive test for Covid-19 of one of our team members.”
It is not yet clear whether the positive was within the riders or the staff, but the team have taken the correct procedure.
Other teams have had to do the same at other big races with Alpecin-Fenix, Bora-Hansgrohe, Trek-Segafredo, and Kern-Pharma all having to abandon races due to positive tests from riders or staff members.
Démare will likely be frustrated as he would have wanted to kick start his season after getting his first win of the year. The French champion won 14 times in 2020, which made him the rider with the most wins in the year. It also earned him the points jersey at the Giro d’Italia, where he took four wins.
The weather has also played a part in the team presentation having to be cancelled due to the bitterly cold weather and snow.
This meant that the riders in both the men’s and women’s races did not do the usual sign-on on the stage and instead went straight to the start line.
Scheldeprijs finishes in the town of Schoten with the men’s race starting in Terneuzen before taking on a windswept 193.8km whereas the women’s race started and finishes in Schoten after 136.2km.
The race usually comes down to a mass sprint finish with some of the biggest names in the sprinting world taking to the men’s race. The now retired Marcel Kittel holds the record for the most wins with five wins between 2012 and 2017.
This year sees the first-ever women’s edition of the race and the race has attracted some big with top sprinters like Lorena Wiebes (DSM), Marta Bastianelli (Alé-Ljubljana-BTC), Elisa Balsamo (Valcar-Travel & Service), and Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) all riding.