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Matheu van der Poel won’t be making his return to road racing at the Sibiu Cycling Tour as initially planned as his Alpecin-Fenix team has decided to withdraw from the Romanian stage race.
The Belgian ProTeam announced the change in plans on Thursday, explaining in a statement that a variety of health and safety concerns led to the decision.
“Unfortunately, we had to conclude traveling to Romania is not an option,” team management said. “The health of our riders, staff members but also public health is of primary importance. We want to strictly follow all recommendations to eliminate any risk.”
The team cited “the risk of infection in Romania, the dissuasive advice about traveling to ‘orange zones,’ the outlook for the next two weeks, and the restrictions afterwards,” as reasons for its decision.
“We added the Sibiu Cycling Tour to my program in order to get extra race rhythm ahead of Strade Bianche. However, I experience during our high-altitude camp in La Plagne, physically, I’m right on schedule,” van der Poel said. “In that way, I can start my Italian program with a good feeling.”
Instead of getting back to racing at the Sibiu Cycling Tour, Van der Poel is expected to return at Strade Bianche, which is scheduled for August 1.
This year’s edition of the event will mark his debut at the race.