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EF Pro Cycling call for Giro d'Italia to be stopped

PALERMO ITALY OCTOBER 01 Lachlan Morton of Australia and Team EF Pro Cycling EF Pro Cycling special Rapha x Palace Skateboards Detail view during the 103rd Giro dItalia 2020 Team Presentation in Archaeological Park of Segesta in Palermo City Temple of Segesta girodiitalia Giro on October 01 2020 in Palermo Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

A request from the EF Pro Cycling team to stop the Giro d'Italia on Monday’s second rest day because of "a clearly compromised bubble" has been rejected by the UCI.

According to Eurosport, the letter was sent to Giro d'Italia race organiser RCS Sport, the UCI, and other teams and stakeholders, with EF Pro Cycling saying, "it must be expected that further illness will result" from the positive tests so far, and that, "it would be better for the Giro and the UCI World Tour… [if] this be done in a systematic, holistic way versus a chaotic withdrawal on a team by team basis."

The UCI rejected EF Pro Cycling’s request, with UCI president David Lappartient reportedly writing: "We now face a challenge to finish the season and this can be achieved by continuing this spirit of collaboration and unity in professional cycling.

"With these measures, we trust in everyone's cooperation in the common goal of continuing our sport in the safest possible conditions. The outcome of these measures will be closely monitored throughout the continuation of the event and for any additional measures."

The UCI later said a general screening of the teams is being carried out on Thursday and Friday in addition to the testing planned for the second rest day on Monday, telling Cyclingnews: "the organiser has agreed – at our request and that of the teams – to reinforce the measures by introducing saliva antigenic tests today (Thursday) and Friday before the next PCR tests that will be carried out on the second rest day."

Regardless of future test results, EF have said they will leave the Giro d’Italia if they have a positive test in their team.

News of the letter came hours after it emerged that 17 police motorbike officers from the E-Giro event, a corresponding electric bike race which precedes the arrival of the Giro every day, tested positive for COVID-19. They have been placed into quarantine in Francavilla a Mare in Abruzzo, close to where riders and staff spent Monday’s rest day. 

Simon Yates, Steven Kruijswijk and Michael Matthews have all tested positive for COVID-19 along with four staff members from Mitchelton-Scott team and one from Ineos Grenadiers and AG2R-La Mondiale. Mitchelton-Scott and Jumbo-Visma opted to abandon the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday, with other riders concerned about their health if they continue in the Giro d’Italia.

RCS Sport has worked hard to establish a strict COVID-19 protocol and has carried out hundreds of PCR swab and rapid tests. Follow-up tests on the five teams with positive cases are expected before the weekend, with the UCI saying a general screening of the teams is being carried out on Thursday and Friday in addition to the testing planned for the second rest day on Monday.

"While we hope to remain in the race until an official early finish, should anyone on our team test positive, or should the riders and staff grow uncomfortable with the situation, we will leave the race at that time," EF said in their letter.

Read EF Pro Cycling's letter below

Dear RCS, UCI, Stakeholders and Teams,

Thank you for your efforts to produce a safe and compelling Giro d’Italia. We have enjoyed our team at the race so far.

Unfortunately, given the news of:

• Reportedly 11 positive tests across four teams within the peloton ‘bubble’

• Estimated positivity rate of ~2%, which feels too high in a population that should be protected, asymptomatic, and with an extremely low positivity rate

• An outbreak across teams within the peloton

With a clearly compromised bubble and an expected lag between exposure and symptoms/positives, it must be expected that further illness will result. This is not a given, but the precautionary principle would suggest we act responsibly and adopt a conservative approach

For the health and safety of riders, staff, and the communities through which we race, we recommend that the Giro be stopped early. We believe it would be better for the Giro and the UCI World Tour should this be done in a systematic, holistic way versus a chaotic withdrawal on a team by team basis. The second rest day seems a natural break in the race to declare winners and a successful 2020 Giro d’Italia. In the meantime, we support the idea of:

• At least two systematic Covid tests before that rest day and an earlier close to the race if additional tests return positive prior to the rest day

• Properly sealing off the team paddocks in both the start and finish areas and to reinforce safety of the teams in the hotels.

While we hope to remain in the race until an official early finish, should anyone on our team test positive or should the riders and staff grow uncomfortable with the situation, we will leave the race at that time and would, of course, give you as much notice as possible.

Thank you for your consideration and continued attention to this situation.