Jumbo-Visma and DSM have withdrawn from the Volta Valenciana after returning a number of positive COVID-19 tests each, one day after BikeExchange-Jayco’s own departure from the Spanish stage race. Movistar has also had positives within the team, but while the infected riders withdrew, the team chose to race on.
“Since it cannot be ruled out that more people will test positive, the decision has been taken to protect others, inside and outside the team,” Jumbo-Visma said in their announcement.
“From three days before the start, all team members, riders and staff alike, were subjected to daily corona tests to be able to act appropriately in the interest of everyone’s health. In addition, compartments were used as much as possible to limit the number of so-called close contacts.”
Jumbo-Visma broke the news on the morning before stage 4 of the Volta Valenciana, and shortly before the stage start, DSM made their own announcement.
Though COVID-19 and the new, fast-spreading Omicron variant have affected early-season team camps, this is the first race of the 2022 season to be affected by coronavirus withdrawals. It’s also served to expose the rules that come into affect in the event of a positive result.
The rules as to who decides whether a team can remain in a race have varied since the beginning of the pandemic. Early on, it came down to race organisers and the UCI, dictating that any team with two positive test results within a week must withdraw, regardless of whether they’re riders or staff. That soon changed to just two riders, and this season it’s changed again, the rules now somewhat vague.
The UCI regulations state:
“For all races apart from Grand Tours, in the case of a confirmed COVID-19, the doctor responsible for COVID-19 in the race will provide all relevant information to the race organiser, who will be responsible for whatever measures are necessary for the event after discussion with the national health authorities.
“The organiser of the race will talk to the UCI medical director and representatives both of riders and teams before decisions are taken. These decisions do not concern those people in quarantine, which remains the full responsibility of the COVID doctor and the national health authorities.”
Every team also has their own internal regulations, so while the Dutch and Australian outfits have opted to withdraw in their entirety, Team Movistar is within its right to carry on following Juri Hollman and Einer Rubio’s positives, so long as the rest of the team – including Enric Mas and Alejandro Valverde, fourth and fifth overall going into stage 4 – remain negative.