Although the start of the 2020 racing season has been postponed until August 1 because of the coronavirus pandemic, Norwegian Alexander Kristoff is counting himself lucky to be at home when he should have been racing the Giro d'Italia: he and his wife are expecting the birth of their twins any day now.
"I have to admit, on a personal level, this coronavirus is not so bad for me. Normally I would be racing in the Giro, but my wife was in the hospital last week because the delivery was coming," Kristoff told Sporza. "She has slowed down for a while, but I am now lucky enough to be home before the birth."
The UAE Team Emirates sprinter expressed his doubts about whether the WorldTour starting in August was realistic.
"I really don't know. It is going well in Norway, but I don't know what the situation is in other countries," Kristoff said.
"Will there be a period of quarantine if you travel to another country? Then as a rider you may have to choose one country, because if you go from one country to another country to race, you may always have to be quarantined."
When asked if the racing should be 'behind closed doors' – without spectators – Kristoff highlighed the risks: "If you bring people together, it becomes more dangerous. But that also applies to the peloton: if one rider is infected, the rest will quickly contract the virus.
"A rider sneezes and spits, and you ride close to each other. It is difficult. You can test everyone and check whether everyone is healthy, but you are never 100 percent sure."
He admitted to being a little fearful of contracting COVID-19.
"The virus is not that dangerous for young people, but I am getting older, hey?" the 32-year-old joked, before adding more seriously: "I am healthy, but my wife is pregnant with twins. I don't want to endanger my family and I want to take care of them."
Kristoff continues to train and prepare for a season where the races he's won in the past – Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem – are part of a jumbled, overlapping web of high-level races.
"I have been able to train quite normally in the past few weeks. I was not locked inside and could therefore cycle outdoors. My shape is quite good. But there is still enough time to get ready for the first races. And we still have to always wait and see if we can race in August," Kristoff says.
"The situation is going in the right direction here. We don't have a real lockdown here, so the schools are open. There are guidelines, such as keeping a distance, but there aren't too many new cases and the situation is improving."
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