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Kevin Rivera stuck in Costa Rica due to COVID-19 restrictions

The winner of stage 4 of the 2020 Tour de Langkawi, Kevin Rivera (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), tells the press how he did it
Kevin Rivera at the 2020 Tour de Langkawi (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Kevin Rivera will not be able to defend his title at the Sibiu Tour next week and fears for his future as a rider as he finds himself stuck in Costa Rica due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

The 22-year-old, who rides for Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, where he used to be teammates with Egan Bernal and Iván Sosa, is trying to obtain permission to travel to Europe to race again this season. 

The European Union has banned foreign arrivals from all but 15 countries. Rivera does not have full-time residency in Europe and uses work permits that last for three months at a time, but his has expired and he has not been able to renew it. 

"I've been preparing since I returned home from Italy on February 20. I've carried on training. The aim was to travel on Saturday and do the race I won in Romania last year, but that wasn't possible," he told CRhoy.

Rivera, who has been touted as another South American to pass through Gianni Savio's Italian team en route to the WorldTour, was set to make his Grand Tour debut this year at the Giro d'Italia. 

He and his agent are working desperately to find a solution, with the Giro due to get underway on October 3. 

"It's a really big problem because the team needs me there," Rivera said. 

If he can't race the Giro, he faces uncertainty over his future, given his contract expires at the end of 2020 and he has not yet firmed up plans for 2021.

"It's an important year for me. If I don't race others will, and I don't have a contract for next year. It's very stressful."

Other riders in the Americas have found themselves in similar situations. Two weeks ago, US rider Ian Garrison was prevented from boarding a plane to Amsterdam, while Rally Cycling are looking at having to race without their American contingent. 

In South America, Colombian pros have been given special dispensation to travel to Europe in the form of a government-organised charter flight, dubbed the' Flight of Sport – Colombian Pride'."

Meanwhile the Spanish embassy granted permission for the arrival of Giro d'Italia champion Richard Carapaz and Ineos teammate Jhonatan Narvaez from Ecuador. 

Rivera began his season by finishing third overall at the Vuelta al Tachira, before winning the queen stage at Genting Highlands in the Tour de Langkawki. He returned home via Italy and has had no option but to keep working hard in the hope he will finally get hold of a ticket to Europe.

"I've had very hard training sessions. I kept training when the coronavirus situation became complicated and I have always trained alone," he said. "Before July I was training hard, with specific work, doing between five and seven hours. That's preparation for something big."