Numbers dwindling as Covid continues to ravage Tour de Suisse peloton

Tadej Pogačar's UAE Team Emirates squad at the Tour of Slovenia has also been hit by a Covid positive.

by Jonny Long

photography by Getty Images

Covid-19 has returned to the professional peloton. For the second day in a row, the Tour de Suisse peloton has seen a multitude of riders and entire teams pull out after returning positive Covid tests. Meanwhile, Tadej Pogačar’s UAE Team Emirates squad has also been hit by a Covid positive at the Tour of Slovenia.

After the likes of Jumbo-Visma and Ineos Grenadiers’ Adam Yates pulled out prior to yesterday’s stage five in Switzerland, the entirety of the Bahrain-Victorious, UAE Team Emirates and Alpecin-Fenix squads quit the race before stage six, as well as race leader Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) following positive tests.

Ineos’ Tom Pidcock and EF Education EasyPost’s Hugh Carthy and Rigoberto Urán have also tested positive, as have Israel – Premier Tech’s Reto Hollenstein and Sebastian Berwick amongst others, with only around 100 riders left on the start list that once numbered 153.

UAE Team Emirates have returned positive Covid tests from two separate races on the same morning. Marc Hirschi and Diego Ulissi tested positive at the Tour de Suisse, while Mikkel Bjerg was also withdrawn after a positive at the Tour of Slovenia. Hirschi’s roommate Joel Suter and Bjerg’s roommate Vegard Stake Laengen were also removed from the race as a precaution.

Nevertheless, the Tour de Suisse got underway for stage 6. With two weeks to go until the Tour de France, teams will be weighing up the risk of continuing the race. Others facing relegation from the WorldTour could hang on in the hope of securing more points than they’d previously expected.

“Ironically today’s stage goes to Visp and rides past one of the factories that makes the Moderna vaccine,” tweeted the Inner Ring. “Infection rates aren’t high across Europe but are rising, increasing the probability of more disruption in Tour de France.”

“The representatives of the UCI, the teams, the riders and the Tour management jointly assessed the health situation this morning and decided to continue the race,” the Tour de Suisse organisers said in a statement. “All those involved are called upon to consistently adhere to the current corona protection concept of the Tour de Suisse. Those responsible are monitoring further developments and will assess the situation together again on Saturday morning.”

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