Deceuninck – Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere and Lotto-Soudal’s Jasper De Buyst have said spoken on their nervousness ahead of the return to racing next month.
While the WorldTour returns on August 1 with Strade Bianche, the Belgian Grote Prijs Vermac takes place on July 5, with Deceuninck – Quick-Step, Lotto-Soudal and Alpecin-Fenix all set to take the start line.
>> Struggling to get to the shops? Try 6 issues of Cycling Weekly magazine for just £6 delivered to your door <<
Lefevere has said he frets cycling is returning too soon, saying he worries about a situation similar to Novak Djokovic’s tournament last week that was supposed to ease tennis out of lockdown but led to a number of positive coronavirus cases.
“My worst nightmare is that the races in July – like in tennis – lead to infections,” Lefevere wrote in his Het Nieuwsblad column.
“Let it be a lesson for all cycling races that will start again in July. Coronavirus clusters are now shooting up like mushrooms, but I hope that enough attention is paid to prevention. Our riders are also young people who haven’t seen each other for a long time but in the evening after dinner everyone went straight to their rooms,” he said.
“I have said it before, at races the attention to hygiene and the risk of contamination is a kind of second nature. In tennis – with the richest sponsors in the world – you may think that you are untouchable.”
Deceuninck – Quick-Step have this week held a training camp for their entire squad, with Lefevere judging that keeping all riders and staff together being the more safe and sensible option, while other teams opt to split rosters into bubbles.
Lotto-Soudal are one of these teams, who have been in the Ardennes for a training camp, with Jasper De Buyst telling Sporza the peloton will be very nervous and eager at every race when the season resumes.
“As a top athlete, you are always afraid to get sick. But I notice that I now have a bit more fear of mishaps than usual,” De Buyst said. “It will also be a bit strange in the peloton. But I hear that the football games were strange at the beginning and are already a bit more normal.”
The Belgian says that coronavirus infections within the peloton may be inevitable and that for riders seriously concerned about contracting the virus, the best option may be to stay at home.
“In the race, you will think about the whole situation in the beginning. But in a peloton of 150 riders, it is impossible not to ride in each other’s snot. If you think about that and you want to avoid it, you just have to do not start.”