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Andorra-based pro riders opt to stay indoors during coronavirus lockdown

Koen De Kort of The Netherlands and Team Trek Segafredo
Koen de Kort and his Trek-Segafredo teammates during Volta ao Algarve (Image credit: Getty Images)

Koen de Kort of Trek-Segafredo has revealed that a number of Andorra-based professional riders have opted to train indoors for at least the next week, to avoid angering local residents who are forced to respect stringent orders to stay at home.

Italian professional and Olympic riders are allowed to train outdoors but Spanish professional riders are not allowed to do so, reportedly due to legal and insurance reasons. Other nations such as France, Belgium and the Netherlands have yet to ban training but could so as the coronavirus pandemic worsens.

Andorra usually follows major Spanish policy decisions despite being an independent microstate high in the Pyrenees between Spain and France. Andorra announced its first coronavirus case on March 2 and now has an official total of 16 cases and a number of suspected cases. Spain has far more cases and on Monday closed its borders to everyone except Spanish residents returning home and those with a valid reason to travel.

"We have a WhatsApp group of all the English-speaking riders in Andorra and it's been decided not to go outside anymore, although there is not yet a ban," de Kort told Belgian newspaper De Telegraaf, suggesting there have been issues out on the roads between locals residents and cyclists, as has occurred in Italy.

"People don't want us to come out yet. And as cyclists, we must try to respect public opinion in such a small state as Andorra. If we now go en masse on the public road to train, you can count on us to be cursed. That's not good for anything. I think it would be more advisable to train indoors for a week or more to make sure people don't hate us."

A number of big-name professional riders are based in Andorra, some with their families. The likes of Tour de France champion Egan Bernal, Robert Gesink and others have confirmed they have switched to riding indoors or limited any training as the lack of racing has forced them and their teams to take a break. 

De Kort recently opened a restaurant in Andorra and has been forced to make some tough economic decisions. That has heightened his understanding of how local Andorra people may feel towards professional cyclist out on the roads.

"I had to close my restaurant because of the coronavirus. I have had to lay off people but I have to pay the rent and electricity for my restaurant and pay wage costs," he said.

Meanwhile, the cyclists seemed to happy riding outside on the road. "From the point of view of ordinary people, I can understand why this might seem wrong.”