Jan Hirt becomes second rider to retire from Vuelta a España with COVID-19

Two positive cases in two days will raise caution levels at race.

Photo: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images

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Any concerns that Wednesday’s withdrawal of a rider with COVID-19 may be just the start of a number of cases has grown Thursday with the news that Jan Hirt is a non-starter for the same reason.

The Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert team announced the news prior to the start of stage 6, revealing that the Czech rider had been watched for several days.

“We closely monitored Jan Hirt the last couple of days until a test this morning showed the presence of Covid-19,” stated team doctor Ruben De Gendt.

“Jan presented mild symptoms and was isolated from the group immediately. He will withdraw from this Vuelta.”

Trek-Segafredo announced Wednesday that Daan Hoole had become the first to be affected by the virus in the Vuelta a España. He is a key leadout rider for Mads Pedersen but had to leave the race as a result.

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Vuelta a España organizers and the UCI implemented a series of anti-COVID measures prior to the start of the race. These included testing prior to the start of the race and on rest days, plus the requirement for those with positive antigen tests to undergo PCR testing which will then be reviewed by doctors.

There are also requirements for the media and others on the race to undergo COVID testing prior to the race and to wear masks in certain areas.

Nearly 20 riders exited the Tour de France with the virus. The peloton will hope that two cases in two days does not lead to an ongoing issue as the Vuelta progresses.

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