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The Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ contingents that spent the past 10 days in quarantine in Abu Dhabi are headed home.
Nathan Haas (Cofidis), Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and more than 20 other riders and staff from the two French teams had been confined to the W Hotel on Yas Island since the evening of Thursday, February 28. That night, organizers cancelled the UAE Tour as public health officials announced that two staff members from a team participating in the race had tested positive for coronavirus.
The W, where the teams were staying, as well as the Crowne Plaza, housing media and organizational staff a short distance away, were both put on lockdown. Medical personnel then conducted tests on the hundreds of people staying at both hotels.
Most of the riders, staff, and media were cleared to leave a few days later, but the teams staying on the fourth floor of the W were kept in quarantine as authorities undertook further tests and ultimately announced several more coronavirus cases connected to the race.
Cofidis and Groupama were among the three teams on the floor, as was Gazprom-Rusvelo. UAE-Team Emirates also decided to stay in Abu Dhabi in what the team said was a self-imposed quarantine.
Required to remain in their hotel for several days after the rest of the UAE Tour entourage departed, the riders on the fourth floor of the W tried to find ways to entertain themselves, while team brass vented their frustration with the lack of information they were receiving from authorities. Eventually, riders were able to pass the time on trainers, while authorities announced that they would remain in quarantine until March 14.
Apparently, two of the three teams were allowed to leave earlier than that following a third round of negative coronavirus tests.
The status of the Gazprom-Rusvelo team remains unclear.