Cofidis team manager Cédric Vasseur joined up with his Giro d'Italia squad this week for a number of days, and told L'Equipe on Friday that he believed race organisers RCS were doing everything they could to keep riders, team staff and organisation staff safe from the coronavirus.
"I had the feeling that the measures were really being respected," Vasseur said. "The organisers are showing great rigour to prevent the race bubble from coming into contact with the tifosi.
"On Monday morning, while going down to breakfast at the hotel on the first rest day, a control unit from RCS noticed that I was wearing a Cofidis shirt. I explained to her that I had already passed all the necessary pre-tests and that I was about to leave, but she never let me go and made me take one again. Honestly, I have no criticism for them."
In the face of rising numbers of positive COFID-19 cases across Europe, EF Pro Cycling manager Jonathan Vaughters suggested on Thursday that this year's Giro should be halted on the upcoming second rest day on Monday, while some riders – including Lotto Soudal's Thomas De Gendt – have said that they're "starting to feel unsafe", although that wasn't the feeling that Vasseur had.
"We are victims of a general health situation that has deteriorated," he said. "In the current context, it is impossible to maintain a 100 per cent airtight bubble, especially in hotels, where staff are well protected, but do not necessarily belong to the race.
"I don't think there's too much more that could be done in terms of the bubbles: we are at the maximum level of precaution. If we did more, it would pose logistical problems, and we couldn't even organise a race. As things stand, we can't really raise the level."
Asked what it might take for Vasseur to pull his team from the race – as Jumbo-Visma and Mitchelton-Scott have already done – Vasseur said that any decision would only be made after consultation with sponsor Cofidis.
"We considered that possibility [pulling out of races if a team member tests positive] as soon as racing resumed. If there is only one positive case, the priority is to isolate it immediately to prevent it from infecting other people," he said.
"If the positive cases multiplied [within the team], then, like Mitchelton-Scott did, and with the agreement of our sponsor, we'd withdraw from the race, because there comes a point when it's no longer possible to control the situation.
"I'm not betraying any medical secrecy by saying that we have already had to deal with isolated COVID-19 cases within the team," said Vasseur. "The main thing is to avoid the epidemic."
Like other teams, Cofidis have undergone further tests in recent days, following positive tests on last Monday's rest day for the likes of Jumbo-Visma's Steven Kruijswijk, Sunweb's Michael Matthews and members of staff on the Mitchelton-Scott, AG2R La Mondiale and Ineos Grenadiers teams.
"Our Giro team was tested last night [Thursday] at 7pm," said Vasseur, "and we got the results back immediately the same evening, and everything is OK: we've had the green light.
"The overall situation is bound to [continue to] be tense, but I hope with all my heart that the Giro will be able to go all the way to the end," he said.
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.