Bizkaia Durango came away with a win and a further two fourth-place finishes with Sandra Alonso at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, but after a positive COVID-19 test within the team, the Spain-based squad were unable to take to the starting line at Emakumeen Nafarroako Women's Elite Classics and Navarra Women's Elite Classics.
This was the second year in a row that the team, who hail from the nearby region of Biscay, have been unable to race in Navarra.
Last year, amidst rising COVID-19 cases in the area, the organisers issued new regulations just one day before the races stipulating that teams must present negative tests in order to participate.
Bizkaia Durango was one of the ten teams of 25 to be left off the start line as well as Women's WorldTeam CCC-Liv, who opted not to race out of health concerns.
The Spanish squad released the following statement on Wednesday evening via their team social media and website:
“The Bizkaia-Durango UCI Continental Team will not be racing Navarra Women’s Elite Classics on Thursday and Friday due to the detection of a coronavirus case in the team.
"All the rest of the team members tested negative in their PCR tests, but by applying the precautionary principle we decided not to take part in these two races.”
The team did not specify whether the positive test came from a rider or staff member. However, given that the team statement mentioned only the two Navarra races, it is thought that the team will return to racing at Gran Premio Ciudad de Eibar 1.1 on Sunday and Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria on Tuesday, as well as Vuelta a Burgos Feminas starting on Tuesday.
Émilie Fortin, who races for the Bizkaia Durango team, expressed her disappointment that the team was unable to start the two Navarra Classics events, and confirmed that she will not be starting Gran Premio Ciudad de Eibar or Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria.
"For me personally, it was a great deception because, having spent more time with our positive case, I have to withdraw from the next races as well. It is especially deceiving to withdraw from Durango and Eibar because I have put some time in the recon and these races are on our home soil," Fortin said.
"As for the girls who are in quarantine with me and our positive case, I think that despite the deception that we share, we keep our spirits up and look on forward together. The rest of the team will take part in the next series of races."
Bizkaia Durango is one of the most enduring teams in women’s racing, founded in 2004, the team has mainly developed Spanish talent such as Lourdes Oyarbide and Lorena Llamas, who both went on to ride for Movistar.
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