UCI updates COVID-19 protocols ahead of Tour de France

GRAND COLOMBIER FRANCE AUGUST 09 Podium Primoz Roglic of Slovenia and Team Jumbo Visma Yellow Leader Jersey Egan Arley Bernal Gomez of Colombia and Team INEOS Social distancing Mask Covid Safety Measures Celebration during the 32nd Tour de LAin 2020 Stage 3 a 145km stage from Saint Vulbas to Grand Colombier 1501m tourdelain TOURDELAIN TDA on August 09 2020 in Grand Colombier France Photo by Justin SetterfieldGetty Images
In 2020, the UCI imposed strict rules to combat COVID-19 and have refreshed those rules for 2022 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The UCI has published an update to its COVID-19 health protocols ahead of the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia Donne, and Tour de France Femmes and in the wake of the mass outbreak which decimated the field at the recent Tour de Suisse and the recent rise of cases of the virus around Europe.

Drawn up by the UCI medical director, Professor Xavier Bigard in collaboration with representatives of riders, teams, team doctors, and race organisers, the new protocols bring back mandatory pre-race testing for races longer than seven days and rest day tests for Grand Tours.

However, multiple positive tests during the race will not lead to automatic exclusion of teams, as was the case in 2020.

The guidelines require all team members (riders and staff) to present at least one negative antigen test in order to take part, while COVID-19 antigen tests are required from team members as well as UCI commissaires, UCI technical delegates, and anti-doping control personnel.

The UCI accounts for false-positives in antigen tests by requiring confirmation by PCR. "In the event a case of COVID-19 within a team is confirmed by an antigen test, then by a PCR test, the decision to potentially isolate the case shall be taken collectively by the team doctor concerned, the COVID-19 doctor for the event, and the UCI medical doctor, on the basis of the clinical elements available".

Riders who return a positive PCR test during the course of a stage race "shall be excluded from the event" according to the new protocols, though the UCI medical director and COVID-19 doctor of the event are able to give exemptions if it is established that "the rider or staff member is not contagious and not likely to infect third persons".

Perhaps the most notable section of the new protocol states that organisers will no longer withdraw teams from their events in the case of two or more positive COVID-19 tests during the race – as was the case previously.

The new protocol, then, could mean an end to the spectacle of teams pulling out en masse thanks to COVID-19 positives within their ranks.

Further "strongly recommended measures" include daily antigen tests for all riders and staff and, during the event, antigen tests to be carried out "if possible, daily but at least every two or three days" for team members, UCI commissaires, UCI technical delegates, and anti-doping control personnel.

"In view of the evolution of the international health situation and on the eve of the Tour de France, it has become necessary to reinforce the measures in force to ensure that the cycling events on our International Calendar can be held successfully and to protect the health of those present at the races," UCI president David Lappartient said.

"Even if the situation we are currently experiencing with the pandemic is less worrying than the one we saw at the height of the health crisis, we must remain vigilant. With this in mind, I call on all parties concerned to continue to scrupulously respect all the provisions of our health protocols.

"This discipline and solidarity have enabled us to maintain our activities over the past two years and will enable us to cope should the pandemic worsen in the future."

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Daniel Ostanek
Production editor

Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Prior to joining the team, he had written for most major publications in the cycling world, including CyclingWeekly, Rouleur, and CyclingTips.


Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France and the spring Classics, and has interviewed many of the sport's biggest stars, including Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Demi Vollering, and Anna van der Breggen.


As well as original reporting, news and feature writing, and production work, Daniel also runs The Leadout newsletter and oversees How to Watch guides throughout the season. His favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Volta a Portugal, and he rides a Colnago C40.