Fernando Gaviria tests positive for Covid for the third time and will miss UAE Tour

The Colombian has been replaced by Pascal Ackermann for the UAE Tour

Fernando Gaviria
(Image credit: Getty)

UAE Team Emirates sprinter Fernando Gaviria has tested positive for Covid-19 for a third time.

The Colombian is undergoing a period of isolation until he recovers from infection and will therefore miss the upcoming UAE Tour.

Two years ago, at the beginning of the pandemic, he was one of the first elite athletes worldwide to know that he had contracted coronavirus when he spent several weeks in hospital in Abu Dhabi after testing positive during the UAE Tour.

He then caught the virus again during last year's Giro d'Italia when he was forced to go home after testing positive during the second rest-day.

Gaviria has struggled for consistent form since his first Covid infection, but had started this current season well, winning two stages at the recent Tour of Oman.

He was set to lead his team in their home tour in the sprints, but instead German Pascal Ackermann will be tasked with that responsibility.

UAE Team Emirates' medical director Dr. Adrian Rotunno said: "As per the pre-race protocol, Gaviria underwent a PCR test which returned a positive result while at home in Monaco before departing to the UAE Tour.

"He is feeling well and undergoing his mandatory isolation period and will aim to return to training following further tests." 

Gaviria's team-mate Tadej Pogačar will make his season debut at the UAE Tour, himself having recently recovered from Covid-19.

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The seven-stage race, which acts as the opening men's WorldTour event of the year, gets underway on Sunday, February 20, with the probability of five sprint stages and just two days reserved for the climbers and general classification riders.

Elia Viviani (Ineos Grenadiers), Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco) will be the key favourites in the sprints alongside Briton Mark Cavendish (Quick Step - Alpha Vinyl).

Defending champion Pogačar will be supported by winter signings George Bennett and João Almeida, with Adam Yates of Ineos Grenadiers and Tom Dumoulin of Jumbo-Visma likely to be his main rivals in the battle for GC honours.

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