The final pre-race COVID-19 tests at the Vuelta a España have sparked two positive tests amongst team staff but no riders were positive for the virus.
Both have been placed in isolation by their teams’ respective medical staff as a process of tracking and tracing begins. It is not clear how much or what contact the two had with the riders and fellow staff since arriving in Spain.
498 tests have so far been carried out prior to the race on Sunday, covering the vast majority of riders and staff taking part in the Vuelta. No riders tested positive, the Vuelta-UCI press release said.
Tests are still ongoing on the small minority of riders and staff flying in late from the Tour of Flanders, with the final results due to be published prior to Tuesday’s stage 1 start.
All individuals accredited for the Vuelta a España - be they riders, staff, organisation or media - have to provide a negative PCR test carried out a maximum of five days before the race.
The Vuelta has created a mobile lab staffed by a team of 18 to carry out up to 750 PCR swab tests per day.
In the Giro d’Italia, two riders from Astana were substituted prior to reaching the start in Sicily, while in the Tour de France two members of the Lotto-Soudal team organisation tested positive in the pre-race tests. Astana dropped Yuriy Natarov and Vadim Pronskiy after the two riders came in close contact with team mate Zhandos Bizhigitov, who tested positive for COVID-19.
No riders tested positive during the Tour de France but Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) and Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) tested positive on the first rest day of the Giro d’Italia.
Cyclingnews understands the Vuelta will apply the same 'two strikes, team out' rule as used at the Tour de France, with two rider positives in a team leading to that team’s exclusion from the race.
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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