Giro d’Italia goes against scandal: Corona outbursts, teams withdraw and riders feel insecure.
On Friday, the 13th stage of the Giro d’Italia will be run. The Italian race is among the three major Grand Tour races, along with France’s Tour det France and Spain’s Vuelta a España.
But even though the Tour de France was held in September, it looks darker for the Giro d’Italia.
Around Italy has been characterized by positive covid-19 tests and great uncertainty among riders.
Two teams withdrew
Already on the first day of rest, October 12, positive corona tests had a great influence on the race.
Mitchelton-Scott was the first team to withdraw, after the British Simon Yates tested positive on covid-19. On the day of rest, it became known that four more people at Mitchelton-Scott were infected. Thus, the team withdrew from the Giro.
Jumbo-Visma’s Steven Kruijswijk also tested positive for the corona, which led to the entire team withdrawing.
Michael Matthews also tested positive for the corona, but his team Team Sunweb chose to continue driving in the Giro. According to the website VeloNews, Matthews tested negative for the virus on Sunweb’s own follow-up check.
This means that as many as nine people had tested positive for corona during the first nine days of the race, including Matthew’s original positive test.
17 police officers infected
And if that wasn’t enough, a major outbreak on Thursday was announced. All of the 17 police officers responsible for safety in the Giro’s e-bike race were diagnosed with covid-19.
According to Cyclingnews, the e-bike race is arranged in collaboration with the Giro d’Italia, where the e-cyclists finish around an hour before the regular riders.
The 17 police officers will be quarantined, and have been replaced so that the race can continue under safe conditions.
– We feel insecure
In the wake of the outbreak among the riders and the police, several riders have commented on what they think about the situation. Many now feel insecure and afraid. Deriblant Lotto Soudals Thomas De Gendt.
– I have to be honest: My head is not in the race after the news of 17 infected police officers, the Belgian told the newspaper Sporza, reproduced by Cyclingnews.
De Gendt reveals that he and the rest of the teammates had a long discussion before Thursday’s stage.
– Things are going really badly in the Giro. We discussed among ourselves the riders in the team for 20 minutes whether we should start or not, because we are starting to feel insecure, he said.
Running drinking bottle sent the big favorite to the ground. Now he has to retire.
Heard hosting in the main field
De Gendt emphasizes that he felt much safer during the Tour de France, which was held from August 29 to September 20. According to De Gendt, he also heard that several riders coughed regularly in the main field during Wednesday’s stage.
– There have been more than 10 cases of infection, and yesterday (Wednesday) I heard many riders coughing. It is a cold season, but in the long run you can not concentrate anymore, said a resigned De Gendt.
In stark contrast to Lotto Soudal and De Gendt, star sprinter Peter Sagan was clear that he did not want to break the Giro.
– We are here to ride the bike race, so we stay here, said the Bora-Hansgrohe rider.
Here he cheers for the biggest victory of his career
Teams asked to cancel the race
The great uncertainty after several cases of infection led the team EF Pro Cycling to ask the organizer to put an end to the race on Monday, which is the race’s second rest day.
According to Cyclingnews, the letter to the International Cycling Union (UCI) states that:
“It must be expected that further infection will occur (…) It will be better for the Giro and the World Tour if the testing is carried out automatically, instead of in a chaotic way where each team tests its own riders.”
EF Pro Cycling received a resounding no from the UCI, but the cycling association will step up covid-19 testing for the rest of the race.
“We now face a challenge to end the season, and this can be achieved through a common spirit and cooperation in professional cycling”, writes UCI President David Lappartient in his reply letter to EF Pro Cycling.
Race director Mauro Vegni says that the organizer is doing everything they can to ensure that the race can be completed as planned in Milan on 25 October.
– We will do it at all costs, apart from some major medical problems. We knew that it would be problematic to hold the Giro in October, but we are doing everything we can to reach Milan despite all the challenges, says Vegni.
Fear of weather trouble
In addition to all the problems associated with coronary heart disease in the Giro d’Italia, the big race can also face new problems when you are now entering the third and final week.
Then the riders will go up into the mountains on their way to Milan, which offers challenges with the weather.
As the race does not end until October 25, the organizer is prepared for having to change routes in the Italian Alps, if the weather is characterized by extreme cold, inclement weather or snow.
One of those who is worried is Vincenzo Nibali, who is currently one minute and one second behind leader João Almeida in the summary.
– The risk with the weather in the third week can be a problem, but not just for me. I am worried, but we will follow the development and set up the strategy accordingly, says Nibali, who won the Giro in 2016.
Carl Fredrik Hagen is the only Norwegian in the Giro, and is in 67th place in the summary. Tobias Foss was taken out of the Giro together with the rest of Team Jumbo-Visma after teammate Kruijswijk’s positive corona test.