No cases of COVID-19 were detected among the Giro d’Italia race bubble during the latest round of rapid testing, it was confirmed on Sunday. The 650 or so riders and staff on the Giro underwent rapid antigen tests this weekend, ahead of the next round of molecular testing on Tuesday’s rest day.
Speaking to Cyclingnews at the Grande Partenza in Turin, race director Mauro Vegni had outlined that at least two rapid antigen tests would be carried out on the entire race bubble during the opening week of the Giro, in addition to the UCI-mandated PCR tests carried out before the race and on each rest day.
Riders and staff on the Giro will thus undergo their next PCR tests in Umbria on Monday evening and Tuesday morning, with the samples analysed by the Centro Diagnostico Italiano in Milan. The results are due to be communicated by RCS Sport and the UCI on Wednesday morning before the start of stage 11 from Perugia to Montalcino. RCS Sport estimates that 2,600 swabs have been carried out on the 2021 Giro to date.
Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal) did not take the start of stage 9, citing the after-effects of COVID-19. The Pole was diagnosed with the coronavirus five months ago, though he does not have a current infection and he did not test positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Giro.
Last October’s Giro saw Jumbo-Visma and Mitchelton-Scott withdraw from the race after coronavirus cases were confirmed on their teams during PCR testing on the first rest day. Jumbo-Visma left the race after Steven Kruijswijk tested positive for COVID-19, while Mitchelton-Scott abandoned en masse when four staff members tested positive days after Simon Yates had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Their departure, as well as the impact of the second wave of the pandemic on case numbers across Italy, prompted EF Education manager Jonathan Vaughters to call for the Giro to be brought to an early conclusion, but his appeal was immediately rejected by the UCI and the race reached Milan with the 20 remaining teams all present.
For 2021, RCS Sport has implemented additional antigen testing to complement the rest day controls, with Mauro Vegni maintaining that the extra tests were especially pertinent during the opening week of the race.
"It’s nine days [from the start] until the next rest day, so we need to have at least one or even two more tests before then to make sure," Vegni said before the race.
"In the first week, above all, we’ll try to do as many tests as possible to make sure there aren’t going to be any problems. We did tests 72 hours before the start but we know that the virus can incubate for five to seven days, so you need to do another test after five days to verify everybody is clear."
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