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Cycling may be carrying on regardless, but the coronavirus pandemic is still playing havoc with race programs.
Several riders have seen their January schedules ripped up following a positive test for COVID, including two cyclocross worlds hopefuls.
Quinten Hermans, who won the Fayetteville round of the CX World Cup in October, is one of two Belgians who will have to miss the trip to the U.S. this week after returning a positive PCR test. The result also means that the 26-year-old’s cyclocross season has come to an end following his seventh place finish at Hoogerheide on Sunday.
“I performed well in Hoogerheide, felt healthy and ready to battle for the medals in Fayetteville. I worked incredibly hard the last couple of weeks and months to be able to line up in the best circumstances,” Hermans said in a statement from his Tormans Cyclo Cross team, which is a branch of the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert WorldTour squad.
“We avoided as many risks as possible, for example by testing daily or by not joining Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux at its January training camp. But on Sunday evening I was informed about the positive PCR test result, and I have no other choice than renouncing for the world championships. I feel very powerless in this situation, and I will need some time to get over this disappointment.”
The Belgian cycling team confirmed that Toon Vandebosch would replace Hermans on the roster. The 22-year-old Vandebosch finished ninth at Hoogerheide at the weekend and is currently sitting 13th in the world rankings.
Bad news for @Quintenhermans and @xaydeeke😢
Both riders tested positive for Covid-19 and will not compete in the @UCI_CX World Championships in Fayetteville 🇺🇸@ToonVandebosch will be Hermans’ substitute, Women Junior van Sinaey will not be replaced #Fayetteville2022 pic.twitter.com/2tErzY3bap
— Belgian Cycling Team (@BELCyclingTeam) January 23, 2022
Belgian junior hopeful, Xaydee Van Sinaey will also miss the world championships in Fayetteville after she too returned a positive coronavirus test. The recently crowned junior national champion will not be replaced within the team, leaving a spot open in the Team Relay test event.
Elsewhere, Frenchman Benoît Cosnefroy has been forced to delay the start of his 2022 road season after contracting COVID. The Ag2r-Citroën rider confirmed on his Instagram that he would have to miss his debut event at the Challenge Mallorca this week.
It’s not clear when he will be able to contest his first race, though he is scheduled to ride at the Ruta del Sol in mid-February.
“Masked, vaccinated, checked and careful but positive for covid, fortunately without symptoms. So I won’t be back next week at Challenge Mallorca. I will give you my recovery program very soon. Be careful and take care of yourself,” he wrote on his social media.
Ag2r-Citroën had to send some staff members home from a recent training camp after they caught COVID, though the camp itself continued.
Cosnefroy, Hermans, and Van Sinaey are the latest in a long line of riders that have caught COVID in recent weeks as the Omicron variant continues to sweep the globe.
Peter Sagan tested positive for the second time earlier this month, though he has since recovered and returned to training, while Michael Woods also tested positive for the virus in late December. The Jumbo-Visma pre-season training camp was also disbanded very quickly after a rider caught the virus, though the team did not confirm who it was.
Two Bora-Hansgrohe to miss season opener
Two Bora-Hansgrohe riders will miss their season debut due to the ongoing pandemic, team officials confirmed.
Max Schachmann and Giovanni Aleotti tested positive in routine rapid tests over the weekend, the team reacted in accordance with the requirements of the Spanish health authorities and took all necessary measures.
The results have since been confirmed with PCR tests. Both are doing well, but will miss the season opener in Mallorca, officials said.