Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.
After a few days of uncertainty over the COVID-19 testing protocol at the Tour de France, organizers and the French government have decided that the seven-day window tracking positive tests within a team after the first round of rest day tests will reset ahead of the second round, according to Reuters and other outlets.
That determination is big news for the Ineos Grenadiers, Mitchelton-Scott, Cofidis, and AG2R-La Mondiale, each of whom had one staff member test positive for COVID-19 in the first round of tests.
In the run-up to the Tour, the UCI announced that safety protocols would stipulate that any team with two members, either riders or staff, testing positive within a seven-day window would be removed from the race. The organization then moved to relax those rules to specify that only two positive rider tests would trigger removal, but after pushback from the French government, the original plan was re-affirmed.
Confusion arose, however, after positive tests emerged in the tests undertaken across this past Sunday and Monday, due to the fact that the next round of mandated testing would occur on the following Sunday and Monday. The initial rules left some uncertainty over whether two positives across those two different rounds of testing, one week apart, would both fall within the all-important seven-day window.
If so, a single positive test from that second round would have triggered removal from the Tour for any of the teams that already recorded positive tests. According to reports, however, Tour organizers and the French government have now decided that the testing window of the first rest day test round will reset prior to the next one.
In other words, unless riders or staff from one of those four teams test positive in the next few days when testing is done only when certain conditions are met on a case-by-case basis, they will each return to having both of their “two strikes” for the next round of race-wide testing.
While more than one positive test at that time will still trigger removal from the race, the clarification will surely come as welcome news to Egan Bernal, Romain Bardet, and the many other big names on those four teams that are not quite as close to removal from the race than they might have otherwise been.