Russian rider in hospital in UAE with coronavirus

The first rider confirmed to have been infected with the virus

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A Russian rider is receiving treatment in the UAE for coronavirus, his team have announced.

He is the first rider confirmed to have been infected with the Covid-19 virus after the UAE Tour was abandoned and teams were put under quarantine.

Dmitry Strakhov, who rides for Professional Continental outfit Gazprom-RusVelo, has been hospitalised in Abu Dhabi as his team have been quarantined in their hotel for almost two weeks.

Strakhov said: “After passing the fifth test at the hotel, they told me that I have a positive result for coronavirus and I need to go to the hospital.

“True I did not see the results of the analysis. The hospital conducted additional tests, took a blood test and promised to report the results in the near future. I’m waiting. I feel normal. I followed and continue to follow all safety measures.

“I hope that this situation will be resolved soon.”

The final two stages of the UAE Tour were abandoned after concerns were raised about a coronavirus outbreak within the team hotel, as all riders, staff and media were tested for the virus.

After contradictory reports from health authorities and the UCI, most of the teams were allowed to leave the UAE by March 1, but Cofidis, UAE Team Emirates, Groupama-FDJ and Gazprom were all kept locked down over fears the virus had spread through their hotel floor.

Cofidis and Groupama have now been released, but the UAE Team and Gazprom are still being kept in the country, 12 days after the initial lockdown.

Gazprom said three of their riders were hospitalised for additional tests, with Strakhov the only one testing positive so far.

>>> Mathieu van der Poel pulls out of Volta a Catalunya 

Coronavirus has caused a huge dent in the cycling calendar, with Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and women’s race Trofeo Alfredo Binda all being abandoned, with the impact not expected to slow any time soon.

Paris-Nice has had coronavirus hanging over it for the opening three stages, but it looks like the event may make it to its final destination, while serious concerns about the fate of the Giro d’Italia have been raised.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.