The fourth round of mass PCR tests for COVID-19 in the Vuelta a España on riders and team staff have all returned negative results, it was announced on Tuesday morning.
In a joint press release issued by the UCI and race organisers Unipublic on Tuesday morning, it was revealed that 681 tests were carried out, 528 of them on the riders and team staff, and the remaining 153 on 'level two' members of the race organisation bubble – consisting of those members of the organisation in closest contact with the riders and teams.
With the latest round of tests all negative, there have now been no positive tests since before the race start. Cofidis rider Jesús Herrada was forced to miss the Vuelta after testing positive the week before the race, while members of staff from Team Sunweb and Bahrain McLaren left the race after testing positive in the final pre-race checks.
Mass testing was carried out prior to the race by everybody accredited on the race, including media, before arriving at the event, then immediately before the race itself and then on the first rest day, when 684 tests were carried out and produced no positive results.
Spain has been one of the worst hit countries in western Europe by the pandemic, with 1.1 million registered infections to date and much of the country in varying degrees of confinement and curfew. A six-month state of emergency was declared over a week ago.
On Saturday, as part of their statement concerning the stage 10 protest over the time split rules, riders insisted that the organisers were not to blame and added "it has been unanimously agreed upon within the peloton that La Vuelta 2020 has been one of the safest and well-organised races during the current pandemic. We applaud the measures they have put in place to make the race as safe as possible."
The Vuelta a España continues on Tuesday with an individual time trial to Mirador de Ézaro, and it is set to finish in Madrid on Sunday. The Women's WorldTour event, Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta, will run for three stages from Toledo to Madrid, starting on Friday.
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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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