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The team confirmed Tuesday that their newly signed Colombian talent has been diagnosed with COVID-19, and will have to sit out their pre-season camp in southern Spain. The news comes among growing tension as to how the pandemic will impact the forthcoming 2021 season.
“The Movistar Team confirms Tuesday that Miguel Ángel López will not be able to join ‘The Blues’ 2021 training camp in Almería after receiving a positive COVID-19 test carried out on Monday,” read a statement.
“The test López underwent took place after he was notified he was a close contact of another person outside the team who tested positive earlier. López had received a negative result prior to traveling to Europe.”
— Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (@SupermanlopezN) January 2, 2021
The combined Movistar men’s and women’s camp this month had offered “Superman” the opportunity to meet and ride with new teammates for the first time since his high-profile transfer from Astana over the winter. After riding to sixth overall at last summer’s Tour de France, the 26-year-old is expected to be taking a front seat in the Spanish squad’s GC challenge as it continues to rebuild after the exit of several marquee riders at the start of 2019.
The news of López’s COVID-positive comes as teams gather in their respective “race bubbles” throughout Europe for pre-season preparations.
With the start of the cycling year repeatedly pushed backward by the cancelation of early-season races such as the Tour Down Under, Tour Colombia, and just this week, the cancelation of the Vuelta a San Juan and the Mallorca Challenge, tensions run high about the fate of the season to come.
Also Wednesday, Italian ProTeam Androni Giocattoli Sidermec confirmed that young Ecuadorian rider Jefferson Alexander Cepeda has had to delay the start of his season after contracting coronavirus. There will be no such worries for Tadej Pogaçar, Marc Hirschi and their UAE Team Emirates teammates after the squad received the first of their two-part Sinopharm vaccine at their Emirati camp last week.
Although the restarted 2020 season more-than proved that cycling through a pandemic was possible, the arrival of a third wave of the virus through Europe this winter makes it more-than-likely that COVID will continue dictating the racing playbook for the months to come.