Richard Carapaz has been forced to pull out of the Tour de La Provence due to a positive coronavirus test.
The 28-year-old is not currently showing any symptoms, according to his Ineos Grenadiers team, who will now hope the infection is limited to just Carapaz.
The French stage race was Carapaz's second competition of the new season, having raced Etoile de Bessèges but not able to complete the final time trial after a crash on the key GC stage a couple of days earlier.
Carapaz had been sitting 19th overall after the prologue and stage one at the Tour de La Provence, 51 seconds off Ineos team-mate Filippo Ganna, but with a key mountain stage still left to close out the race on stage three Carapaz was still in the hunt for the win.
"Unfortunately due to a positive COVID test Richard Carapaz will not take to the start today at Tour de la Provence. Richie is currently showing no symptoms," Ineos Grenadiers said in a statement, a dampener on what has been a perfect start to the race.
The British squad claimed the prologue victory through time trial world champion Filippo Ganna, with Ethan Hayter also second on the day, before Elia Viviani secured his first win since his return to Ineos on the first road stage.
Carapaz's forced exit will be good news for the prospects of Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) and Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), who are both poised to contest the overall victory.
Alaphilippe sits just four seconds behind Ganna in the GC, the upcoming climbing likely too demanding for Ganna's powerful physique, while Quintana lurks a further 24 seconds behind the French world champion.
Assuming Carapaz fully recovers he is slated to next line up at Tirreno-Adriatico on March 7th before the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya two weeks later ahead of a return to the Giro d'Italia in May.
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