The Giro d’Italia has tightened the COVID-19 rules for the race after Remco Evenepoel tested positive for the virus, with facemasks now compulsory in such as sign-on, finish lines and anti-doping to protect the riders.
The UCI stripped back their COVID-19 protocol at the start of the 2023 season, and teams and race organisers followed suit. Riders no longer undergo obligatory testing before and during races, with masks, distancing and other restrictions largely abandoned.
Teams have followed their own internal rules, with Jumbo-Visma riders and staff wearing face masks in the first week of the Giro d’Italia. Most teams are now expected to introduce more stringent rules, with Geraint Thomas confirming that Ineos Grenadiers will return to the rules the team followed during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Evenepoel tested positive on Sunday evening in a pre-rest day team test. His Soudal-QuickStep decided he should leave the race, insisting they want to take ‘zero risks’ with the young Belgian’s health.
Evenepoel is the sixth rider to leave the race due to a COVID-19 positive. Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-EasyPost) also tested positive on Sunday. Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers), Nicola Conci (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Giovanni Aleotti (Bora-Hansgrohe), and Clément Russo (Arkéa-Samsic) tested positive earlier in the first week.
Giro d’Italia race director Mauro Vegni confirmed the tighter rules to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“The original protocol is no longer in place, and the World Health Organisation no longer classifies COVID-19 as an emergency. That means every team can do tests if they want,” Vegni said.
“They can decide to stop a rider or not. There have been confirmed cases, but I wouldn’t put my hand in the fire against there having been other cases, perhaps which weren’t confirmed.
Vegni confirmed that the Giro d’Italia was concerned about the COVID-19 cases, confirming the change in rules.
“We all perhaps stopped focusing on it too soon,” Vegni said. “We’ve got to lift our guard, and we’ll start from this week.
“We’ll again introduce the rules that were dropped, such as the obligation to wear masks when coming into contact with the riders at the start and finish. We won’t limit the way people can work on the race, but whoever wants to interact with the riders will have to wear a mask. Should we have done it earlier? Probably.”
The Giro d’Italia organisers confirmed that facemasks will be…
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