New Zealand super-domestique George Bennett (UAE Team Emirates) is out of the Tour de France, having tested positive for COVID-19 – a result that threatens to complicate reigning Tour champ Tadej Pogačar’s bid for victory.
According to a UAE Team Emirates media statement, he was tested during the rest day yesterday and returned a positive result, later confirmed by a PCR test.
Rafał Majka, another key lieutenant for Pogačar, has also apparently tested positive but has a low enough viral load to continue, according to Eurosport’s Orla Chennaoui.
“On Monday night George displayed some symptoms and per our protocol he was tested for COVID-19 and returned a positive result. Therefore he will not start today,” said Dr Adrian Rotunno, UAE Team Emirates’ medical director.
“As per our internal protocols,” Rotunno continued. “Rafal Majka was tested for Covid-19 and returned a positive result this morning. He is asymptomatic and analysing his PCR found he had a very low risk of infectivity, similar to the case of Bob Jungels earlier in the race. As per protocol we reported it to the UCI medical team this morning, who granted Rafal permission to take the start just prior to race departure. We are aware Rafal’s clinical picture and are closely monitoring his situation.”
Bennett is the second rider from UAE Team Emirates to have tested positive and left the race, with Vegard Stake Laengen dropping out on July 9.
The popular New Zealander joined the UAE Team Emirates team at the start of this season, specifically earmarked as a key climbing domestique for Pogačar.
After no riders tested positive prior to the rest day, it looked like a bullet had been dodged for the Tour de France peloton. However, in addition to Bennett, news broke on Tuesday morning of Luke Durbridge (Team BikeExchange) returning a positive result and dropping out of the Tour.