Danish rider Michael Mørkøv has said he felt “guilty” that he may have spread the coronavirus to his Danish team-mates at the track World Championships after having left the UAE Tour where there were two suspected cases.
Mørkøv has been cleared to race after the UCI said it had been “guaranteed” that he had not been in contact with the two individuals suspected to have the virus at the UAE Tour.
Mørkøv said his “first thought” when he heard about the virus at the UAE Tour was that he’d spread it to his team-mates. “You think OK they just made a world record we were hugging each other a thousand times,” he said. “I was, of course, feeling really guilty that I had brought this virus to other people. Team-mates, of course. It’s not a nice feeling, even though I couldn’t have done anything about it.”
The Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider was give clearance to race as the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi, where the riders, staff and press from the UAE Tour have been quarantined, confirmed that 167 of the tests conducted so far have come back negative for the Covid-19 virus.
However, the department did not specify how many of the 133 riders that completed the UAE Tour were included in the 167 negative tests or whether the two suspected cases were among them.
It said it was “still monitoring the condition” of the remaining people that had been quarantined and that their test results were expected within a few hours.
Mørkøv raced four stages of the UAE Tour before traveling to the track World Championships in Berlin and has been under quarantine in his hotel rooms since news of the outbreak in the UAE broke.
Just a day after racing in the desert Mørkøv was inside the velodrome celebrating with his Danish team-mates as they lowered the team pursuit world record for the third time in 48 hours.
It was late into the evening that news of the two suspected cases of coronavirus at UAE Tour broke. The Arabian authorities swiftly cancelled the race’s remaining two stages and put the riders, staff and press under quarantine.
“That was really unfortunate news, but I went to bed and when I woke up the next morning I was in contact with my coach, him and I decided it was better to stay in the room for safety reasons,” Mørkøv said. “Personally I wouldn’t be feeling well if I jeopardised anybody with the risk of bringing this virus around”
The Danish rider said spending a total of 34 hours alone in his room wasn’t as bad as it might first appear. “It hasn’t really been boring. I’ve been talking with all of you guys, messages calls, family or whatever. Obviously I’ve been on the phone waiting for positive response. I had a lot of things in my mind to do but I didn’t get to any of it.” He also spent some time training on rollers and said it wasn’t much different to other times wherein the days before races he’s had to train inside due to poor weather.
The Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider said: “I’m reading the news about the guys sitting around for 14 days and we know all about the ship in Japan. That must be horrible compared to what I’ve done.” The UCI opted not to test Mørkøv for the virus while it waited for the results of the test in UAE.
He is set to ride the World Championship Madison tomorrow and he said that if anything he felt the time spent under quarantine might have a positive effect on his performance. “I’m even more motivated for a good race tomorrow than I was before I came here. Now I feel really privileged I get to race,” he said.
He and Danish Cycling Federation president Henrik Jess Jensen both said they were happy with the way the sports governing body the UCI had handled the situation.
Jensen said: “I think it’s a world organisation and you have to be secure with what is going on all over. It has to be forefront of the cycling. I am quite satisfied even though you are impatient and want fast answers, even this morning we have being having a lot of coffee. But now we are feeling good.”