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The UCI confirmed its COVID-19 protocol ahead of the Tour de France.
A recent wave of COVID-19 cases at the Tour de Suisse and the news that Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl lost key workhorse Tim Declercq to a mild case of the virus prompted the governing body to reinforce its health measures Tuesday.
Updated regulations outlined by the UCI “respond to the need to reinforce medical surveillance of the peloton, team personnel and officials in the face of a changing epidemiological situation characterized by an increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases recently reported.”
Face masks, social distancing and hand sanitizing remain a must for the 2022 Tour.
New mandatory measures include:
- Presentation of at least one negative antigen test for all members of the riders and team staff at least two days before the start of the race.
- COVID tests-19 antigen test for all riders, team staff, commissaires, technical crew and anti-doping control personnel on the rest days of the event (with the exception of any transfer days).
Where a COVID positive is detected, “the decision to potentially isolate the case shall be taken collectively by the team doctor concerned, the Covid-19 doctor for the event and the UCI medical director.”
The rule that previously authorized organizers to withdraw teams from that had two or more riders returning positive COVID-19 PCR tests within seven days is dropped.
He will be replaced for the race by French Champion @flosenech.
We wish Tim a speedy recovery!
— Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team (@qst_alphavinyl) June 28, 2022
The recent Tour de Suisse saw COVID come back strong in the pro peloton. Bahrain-Victorious, Jumbo-Visma, UAE Emirates, Alpecin-Fenix, and Jumbo-Visma all left the race as positive cases swept through the bunch in the back-half of the week.
“In view of the evolution of the international health situation and on the eve of the Tour de France, it has become necessary to reinforce the measures in force to ensure that the cycling events on our international calendar can be held successfully and to protect the health of those present at the races,” UCI chief David Lappartient said in a press note.
“Even if the situation we are currently experiencing with the pandemic is less worrying than the one we saw at the height of the health crisis, we must remain vigilant. With this in mind, I call on all parties concerned to continue to scrupulously respect all the provisions of our health protocols. This discipline and solidarity have enabled us to maintain our activities over the past two years and will enable us to cope should the pandemic worsen in the future.”
The UCI also strongly recommended daily antigen tests for riders and staff in the five days before the race, with further testing at least every third day.