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Sunweb staff member positive for COVID-19

SIENA ITALY AUGUST 01 Start Tiesj Benoot of Belgium and Team Sunweb during the Eroica 14th Strade Bianche 2020 Men a 184km race from Siena to SienaPiazza del Campo StradeBianche on August 01 2020 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Team Sunweb's riders masked at the start of Strade Bianche (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Sunweb announced Tuesday that a staff member has tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus from a PCR swab taken six days before the scheduled start of the Tour de l’Ain. The team confirmed that the staff member had no recent contact with any team members and is currently isolating at home.

"It is important for us to directly highlight that he has not been in contact with any other team members in recent months and is now isolating at his home," the team said in a statement.

"Although he was ill, he showed no COVID-specific symptoms and did not qualify for regular testing outside of these cycling-specific protocols. Our medical team will continue to monitor the situation and determine when he can return to competitions or team camps."

The staff member was scheduled to travel with the team to the upcoming UCI 2.1 Tour de l’Ain held from August 7-9 in France. 

The UCI has implemented strict COVID-19 protocol and safety measures that events, teams and riders must adhere to during the revised calendar. Outside of social-distancing measures and the creation of protective peloton and team 'bubbles,' participating athletes must undergo pre-race testing. 

Two separate PCR tests are administered to each athlete at six days and three days before a WorldTour event. Athletes must return a negative test for COVID-19 in order to start any race.

Although the Tour de l’Ain is a 2.1-level event, and so only requires one PCR test three days prior to the race, Sunweb followed the WorldTour-level COVID-19 protocol of administering two tests.

"As a sport, cycling is putting so much time, energy and money into creating a safe bubble. The pre-testing’s primary function is to keep the bubble 'clean', and that has already proved itself here so early on in the season," the team stated.

"Although the UCI calls for one test three days ahead of non-WorldTour and non-ProSeries races, we are in favour of maintaining the same testing requirements that are in place for WorldTour races. We have and will continue to operate with two PCR tests – at six days and three days before the race start – to keep our bubble safe.

"With this intensive testing, we are doing all that we can to keep the peloton bubble as free as possible from COVID-19. We share this information externally to avoid inaccurate stories and maintain transparency in relation to the sensitivity of the subject in the current climate. All content within this message has been approved by the colleague in question and we wish him the best as he recovers."

Sunweb's team for the Tour de l'Ain includes Thymen Arensman, Sam Oomen, Robert Power, Martin Salmon, Martijn Tusveld and IIan Van Wilder.