Geraint Thomas calls Covid outbreak causing mass exodus of top cyclists ‘Crazy’
Concern is growing about the impact of Covid-19 on this year’s Tour de France, with dozens of riders forced to withdraw because of positive tests at the Tour de Suisse in Locarno.
Regarded as a tune-up event for cycling biggest race, around 30 riders withdrew on Friday, including race leader Aleksandr Vlasov of the Bora-Hansgrohe team, who won Thursday’s stage, while several teams withdrew their entire squads.
In addition to Vlasov, the departures include some of cycling’s most well-known names, such as Adam Yates, Rui Costa, Marc Hirschi, Rigoberto Urán and Tom Pidcock.
The abrupt exits are another reminder that the pandemic isn’t over — and similar scenes are playing out on a smaller scale at the Tour of Slovenia, where defending Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar won Friday’s stage despite losing two teammates to positive coronavirus tests.
Welsh star Geraint Thomas, who won the Tour de France in 2018 described the outbreak at the Tour de Suisse as “crazy” adding, ” I kind of thought all of this was behind us now.”
Thomas said the withdrawals were “the talk of the bus ride” to the start of Friday’s stage: “This rider out; that rider out; this team; whole team; another whole team.”
He said he’ll keep riding in the Tour de Suisse, but it’s not a certainty that the race will finish as planned as organizers would continue to monitor the situation.
The 2022 Tour de France is set to begin in Copenhagen on July 1, further expanding the footprint of a race that sprawls from the north to the south of France in this year’s route.
According to press reports, at least one team official has called for the organizers of the French race to reimpose a tight bubble and other COVID-19 protocols for this year’s race.
France has reported the most COVID-19 cases in Europe, with more than 30 million, and the French news outlet Ouest France declared “It’s a bloodbath!” as news of the positive tests broke.
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, transmission rates have been rising across Europe this month, although death rates have continued to fall.
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