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Evenepoel and Roglic lose Serry, Kuss to COVID-19 and fever at Vuelta a España

COLLU FANCUAYA SPAIN AUGUST 27 Sepp Kuss of United States and Team Jumbo Visma crosses the finish line during the 77th Tour of Spain 2022 Stage 8 a 1534km stage from Pola de Laviana to Collu Fancuaya 1084m LaVuelta22 WorldTour on August 27 2022 in Collu Fancuaya Spain Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Sepp Kuss is out of the Vuelta after suffering from a fever (Image credit: Tim de WaeleGetty Images)

Vuelta a España leader Remco Evenepoel has lost a key lieutenant on Sunday morning after domestique Pieter Serry left the race following a positive COVID-19 test.

QuickStep-AlphaVinyl announced the news ahead of stage 9 with the team now down to seven riders for the 171.4km stage to Les Praeres.

"After falling ill overnight, Pieter Serry was tested by the team doctor for COVID-19," read a statement from QuickStep-AlphaVinyl. "Unfortunately, the test has returned positive, and Pieter will leave La Vuelta 22.

"The team will continue to implement a stringent testing regime & precautions in order to minimise the possibility of any further infections among the rest of the squad & staff.

"There will be no further comment made on the situation, other than to wish Pieter a speedy recovery."

Evenepoel's red jersey rival Primož Roglič is also down a key helper after Jumbo-Visma announced that climber Sepp Kuss had been forced out of the race with a fever. The American lay 26th overall and was the main support rider for Roglič in the mountains.

"Unfortunately, Sepp Kuss won’t take the start of stage due to fever. Get well soon, Sepp!" Jumbo-Visma announced.

The news of the Serry and Kuss withdrawals come after Bahrain Victorious announcement that Wout Poels had also left the race following a positive test. The Dutchman suffered mild symptoms and withdrew ahead of stage 9.

The loss of Serry, Kuss, and Poels means that the Vuelta will continue with 166 starters on Sunday.

Saturday's stage 8 saw Victor Langellotti (Burgos-BH) and Itamar Einhorn (Israel-Premier Tech) abandon, while Mark Donovan, Nikias Arndt (Team DSM) and Anthony Delaplace (Arkéa-Samsic) left the race in the morning due to positive COVID-19 tests and Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) abandoned with illness.

The first COVID-19 case at the race came ahead of stage 5 as Daan Hoole (Trek-Segafredo) left after testing positive. Since then, Jan Hirt (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Andrea Vendrame and Jaakko Hänninen (AG2R Citroën) have all left after testing positive.

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