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MEGÈVE, France (VN) — Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) said that he has no problems with Rafal Majka (UAE Team Emirates) remaining in the Tour de France after the rider returned a positive test for COVID-19 ahead of stage 10.
Majka is allowed to remain in the race according to the UCI protocols as it is deemed that he is not infectious. Teammate George Bennett was pulled for a positive test the morning of stage 10.
Ahead of the stage, the UAE team confirmed that Majka would remain in the race.
“As per our internal protocols Rafal Majka was tested for COVID-19 and returned a positive result [Tuesday] morning. He is asymptomatic and analysing his PCR found he had a very low risk of infectivity, similar to the case of Bob Jungels earlier in the race,” said Dr Adrian Rotunno, the team’s medical director.
“As per protocol we reported it to the UCI medical team this morning, who granted Rafal permission to take the start just prior to race departure. We are aware Rafal’s clinical picture and are closely monitoring his situation.”
Thomas has been on Majka’s wheel or close proximity to it for many of the stages so far in the race.
However, the former winner told the media that he had no issue with Majka remaining in the peloton, even with a positive test. Riders remaining in the race after a positive test is a contentions issue. Some teams, such as Team DSM, have told VeloNews that they would remove any rider on the squad who returned a positive COVID-19 result.
“It’s a shame for them,” Thomas said of UAE Team Emirates in relation to the loss of Bennett and the state of Majka’s health.
“We sat behind Rafa and then swung out because we didn’t want to be behind him and then Jumbo did the same thing. Everyone was laughing about that. I’m OK with him here, it’s not a big viral load like you say, and we’ve all had it, and we’ve all had jabs.”
Stage 10 saw a large break go clear and ultimately decide the stage with Magnus Cort (EF Education EasyPost) taking the win in a reduced sprint. Thomas came through the stage unscathed and finished on the same time as race leader Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma).
“It was OK. I felt alright at the start considering that I’m not a big fan of rest days when you get going. We got the two guys in the break that we wanted and the rest was pretty straightforward,” Thomas said.
The next two stages of the Tour de France delve deep into the Alps with back-to-back days in the mountains. The race could be blown wide open with summit finishes on the Col du Granon and Alpe d’Heuz. Thomas won the Alpe back in 2018 on his way to overall victory.
“I think that everyone is mindful of it, especially with the Telegraphé and the Galibier before. It’s going to be a solid day and then the next day it’s back up the Galibier, the Croix de Fer, and then Alpe d’Huez. It’s definitely two big days, and tomorrow finishing at altitude, it will be interesting to see how it goes,” he said.