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Alex Dowsett removed from Vuelta a Burgos over coronavirus fears

Israel Cycling Academy’s Alex Dowsett trains in Adelaide ahead of the 2020 Tour Down Under
Israel Cycling Academy’s Alex Dowsett trains in Adelaide ahead of the 2020 Tour Down Under (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Alex Dowsett has joined Itamar Einhorn in being withdrawn from the Vuelta a Burgos by Israel Start-Up Nation as a precautionary measure after one of the team’s riders tested positive for coronavirus ahead of the race.

Omer Goldstein, who is not at the race, returned a positive test on Monday but came into contact with Einhorn before the latter travelled to Burgos, where he was isolated from the team and tested on Monday night.

Israel Start-Up Nation therefore decided to pull the rider from the race but on Tuesday morning the team also confirmed that Dowsett would not start after the British rider came into contact with Einhorn at the team hotel. 

Three staff members were also forced to isolate at the team’s hotel in Burgos, with five riders taking to the start of stage 1 on Tuesday.

During the stage, Israel Start-Up Nation issued a statement on the matter, declaring that Einhorn's test had come back negative. Dowsett was also tested on Monday but is awaiting the results. 

The team described both Dowsett and Einhorn as "perfectly healthy", but explained that they could not take the risk of fielding them since the test results had not returned by the start of the race. 

"Although I am pained to see the riders miss the race, we had to avoid any risk and take this extreme precautionary measure as the tests results were not available in time," said sports director Oscar Guerrero. "It's very unfortunate. I really feel for the riders."

While unable to race, Dowsett felt confident the team had done the right thing. 

"It’s a big disappointment that I did not take the start of Vuelta a Burgos. But even the tiny the risk of me returning a positive test for COVID caused us to act responsibly and reassuringly for the whole peloton, so that everyone can put their mind at ease," he said.

"The team made the right decision to ensure that the bubble is absolutely secure. I completely support and respect the decision for my withdrawal from the race and I wish the guys the best of luck and hope to start racing again soon. Big thanks to the team, the race and UCI for the measures put in place to keep us all safe in these times."

Goldstein recently returned to Girona from Israel under special dispensation. He was due to resume racing next week but was asymptomatic and has since been quarantined. According to the team, Einhorn was the only rider on the team who can into direct contact with Goldstein in Girona.

The Vuelta a Burgos is due to start on Tuesday with a 157km stage from Catedral de Burgos to Mirador del Castillo with 153 riders on the start line.

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Only five Israel riders were present at the sign-on in Burgos on Tuesday morning

Only five Israel riders were present at the sign-on in Burgos on Tuesday morning (Image credit: Alasdair Fotheringham)
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Five bikes where there should have been seven

Five bikes where there should have been seven (Image credit: Alasdair Fotheringham)
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The remaining riders wait to sign on for the stage

The remaining riders wait to sign on for the stage (Image credit: Alasdair Fotheringham)