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Elise Chabbey continues to help under-staffed hospital battle the coronavirus

Elise Chabbey (Bigla-Katusha) helps patients suffering from coronavirus
Elise Chabbey (Bigla-Katusha) helps patients suffering from coronavirus (Image credit: Bigla-Katusha)

It's been almost a full month since Elise Chabbey traded her Bigla-Katusha team kit for a medical coat and a face mask to help an under-staffed Geneva University Hospital on the front lines of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Chabbey, a 26-year-old from Switzerland, completed her medical degree over the last three years while racing while racing for Cogeas-Mettler in 2018 and contracted to race with Bigla for the last two seasons. 

She was scheduled to race Strade Bianche at the beginning of March, but when the novel coronavirus began to spread rapidly through Europe, she instead opted to join the medical team at the Geneva University Hospital to treat and care for patients.

"Things are going ok for now," Chabbey said in a team update on Faceboook. "The organisation at the hospital is good. Everyone working here is very motivated and we're all supporting each other to get through this time. So even if the situation is stressful, we are trying to maintain spirits among the staff at the hospital, and this is really helping a lot."

Due to public health concerns surrounding the coronavirus, WorldTour-level races have been cancelled or postponed across China, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands, while lower-level races have been cancelled throughout the world.

For the Women's WorldTour, events that Chabbey and Bigla-Katusha would have been participating, postponements and cancellations have included Tour of Chongming Island, Strade Bianche, the Bevrijdingsronde van Drenthe, the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, the Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne, Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders, the Ardennes Classics and the Women's Tour. The IOC has also postponed the Tokyo Olympic Games until 2021.

Many nations are in some form of lockdown, either fully in countries such as Spain and Italy, or partially in nations like Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, France and Switzerland.

Under a state of emergency the public health protocols in place include self-distancing recommendations, staying at home, closures of businesses, schools, and event, and in some cases limitations on social gatherings. It is all to help slow the spreading of the virus, give some relief to overflowing healthcare services, and protect vulnerable populations.

"I also think that the general population is now starting to understand how serious the situation is, and they seem more willing to cooperate and do their best to help," Chabbey said.

"I hope that this situation will calm soon, because I miss my Bigla-Katusha teammates a lot, and I can't wait to get back to racing again with them, after we have gotten through this time."

There is not telling when racing will resume and the UCI is providing on its website continuous updates of event cancellations and postponements due to the novel coronavirus, while also working with organisers on possible date changes.

During this time, many athletes have taken to indoor training using trainers and virtual racing software while others are doing indoor strength workouts and sharing across social media.

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.