Lotto-Soudal to add stricter health measures than UCI guidelines

John Lelangue insists that entire Tour de France circus must enforce strict protocol to ensure safety of the whole.

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While the UCI unveiled sanitary measures for upcoming races last week, Lotto-Soudal is planning to apply additional measures to secure the health of their riders against coronavirus risks.

The UCI has set up guidelines that divide the teams and partners into groups of bubbles, all of which will be closely monitored throughout events. Lotto-Soudal’s general manager John Lelangue says that his team will go even further, however.

“We will have our team divided into three bubbles starting in July, those focusing on the Tour de France, those focusing on the Giro and those focusing on the classics,” he said. “Those doing the Tour de France will be in one bubble and everybody from the riders to the sports director to the team chef will be the same from the training camps into the races.”

Lelangue said that the Tour de France team will meet for a pre-race camp in mid-July in the French Vosges mountains. The Vosges are not the high mountains and so riders will get no real benefit from altitude, but the team has very few climbers and is focusing on its sprint ambitions. This week the Belgian outfit confirmed that it would be stacking its Tour team with fastmen including Caleb Ewan, John Degenkolb and Philippe Gilbert.

“Because there will be less tourists in the Vosges we can really adapt our bubble protocol, and then there are plenty of different kinds of roads,” Lelangue said.

Lotto’s Tour team has already been established and includes five Belgians: Jasper De Buyst, Steff Crass, Tim Wellens, Thomas De Gendt and Gilbert. They will be joined by German riders Degenkolb and Roger Kluge, along with Ewan.

All will be at the team training camp before re-starting the season at the Tour of Poland and Tour of Wallonie before heading to the Tour de France, August 29. Only Gilbert and Ewan will break from the bubble as they will skip Poland and focus on Milano-Sanremo August 8 before joining up with the Tour team again.

While Lelangue is focused on the health and sanitary protocol of his own team, he also insists that strident measures must also be enforced by all of the sports partners at the Tour, including guests, race organizers, and the media.

“It is not possible for us to go to such efforts to secure the health of our riders and staff, if everyone does not do the same,” he said. “We also need for the media and hospitality also being tested and have their own protocol.”

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