UCI tightens Covid-19 rules ahead of Tour de France

UCI President David Lappartient said stricter measures are necessary for cycling events to run successfully

UCI Covid-19
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The UCI has updated its Covid-19 protocol for the Tour de France, which includes stricter measures to ensure the safety of riders and team members throughout the three-week race. 

The move comes as Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider Tim Declercq, UAE-Emirate rider Matteo Trentin and Jumbo-Visma sports director Merijn Zeeman had to abandon starting the Tour de France due to testing positive for the virus.

Under the new provisions, today (Wednesday), riders and staff will need to provide at least one negative antigen test, while on rest days - with the exception of any transfer days, such as from Denmark to France - riders and staff will need to provide a negative antigen test.

Commissaires (International and National), UCI Technical Delegates and anti-doping control personnel will also have to test negative on rest days. 

If a team member tests positive from an antigen test, and then a PCR test, the decision to isolate the case is taken collectively by the team doctor concerned, the Covid-19 doctor for the event and the UCI Medical Director.

However, the rule that allowed the race organiser (ASO in the Tour de France's case) to remove any team from the race that had two or more riders return a positive PCR test within seven days has been dropped under the new protocols. 

While not mandatory, the UCI also strongly recommended that team members are tested at least every two to three days. 

UCI president David Lappartient said that “in view of the evolution of the international health situation" it has become "necessary to reinforce the measures" to protect everyone's health. 

He added: “Even if the situation we are currently experiencing with the pandemic is less worrying than the one we saw at the height of the health crisis, we must remain vigilant.

"With this in mind, I call on all parties concerned to continue to scrupulously respect all the provisions of our health protocols. This discipline and solidarity have enabled us to maintain our activities over the past two years and will enable us to cope should the pandemic worsen in the future.”

The protocol was drawn up by a committee under the responsibility of the UCI Medical Director, Professor Xavier Bigard, and consists of representatives of riders, teams, team doctors and organisers. Since its introduction in 2020, the protocol has been regularly updated depending on the situation of the pandemic.

The UCI's decision comes following the mass withdrawals witnessed at the Tour de Suisse earlier in June, which included Jumbo-Visma removing their entire team from the race. 

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