Henao back in action after COVID comeback

Officials confirm the Colombian star contracted the virus after returning to Spain on a special charter flight from Bogotá.

Photo: Getty Images

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Sergio Henao (UAE-Team Emirates) is slated to race for the time in Europe this season at the Bretagne Classic-Ouest France on Tuesday after recovering from COVID-19.

UAE-Team Emirates officials confirmed to VeloNews on Sunday that the 32-year-old Colombian came down with COVID-19 after returning to Europe last month. The team sat out Henao for several weeks as he recovered, who preferred to keep the matter private, and he will resume competition this week.

Henao raced last at the Tour Colombia 2.1, finishing 10th overall, and did not race in Europe this spring before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the calendar in March.

Henao was among several of Colombia’s top sporting stars who flew from Bogotá to Madrid on a special charter flight in July. All members of the flight had to test negative for COVID-19 before being allowed to travel, so team officials said Henao likely picked up the virus upon returning to Spain, where he is based near Pamplona.

Riders are required to produce two negative controls before being allowed to start any WorldTour race, so Henao has been cleared by team doctors to race in the Bretagne classic this week.

At the Vuelta a Burgos in July, three UAE-Team Emirates riders were pulled from the race after the team said they had come in contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19, at the time not revealing who that person was. Sebastian Molano, Cristian Muñoz, and Camilo Ardila were all pulled out, and later tested negative in follow-up controls.

Henao is the latest member of UAE-Team Emirates to test positive for COVID-19. Fernando Gaviria and Max Richeze both contracted the virus at the UAE Tour in February. Gaviria returned to racing and won the second stage at the Burgos tour the same day the three riders left the race.

A growing number of riders have contracted the virus and have been forced to sit out and miss races in past weeks, though there are doubts about the reliability of some of the controls.

Teams are growing worried about severe restrictions in place for the Tour de France that states that teams will be rejected from the race is two or more people test positive for COVID-19 within their designated “bubbles” of riders and staff, capped at 30 people.

Henao is not among UAE-Team Emirates’ eight-rider roster for the upcoming Tour de France, headlined by Fabio Aru, Tadej Pogaçar, and Alexander Kristoff. The Colombian is expected to race Tirreno-Adriatico and the Giro d’Italia later this season.

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