Coronavirus forces Mitchelton-Scott and Jumbo-Visma teams to withdraw from Giro d’Italia

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ROME – The Giro d’Italia was plunged into chaos on Tuesday when two full teams, another overall contender and another elite rider withdrew from the cycle race following a series of positive tests for the coronavirus.The Mitchelton-Scott and Jumbo-Visma teams left the race before stage 10.

Four members of the Mitchelton-Scott staff have tested positive. It came after Mitchelton-Scott’s team leader Simon Yates withdrew ahead of Saturday’s eighth stop after also contracting COVID-19.

Dutch candidate Steven Kruijswijk from Jumbo-Visma and rider Michael Matthews from Team Sunweb also tested positive in 571 exams for all riders and staff coinciding with Monday’s rest day. Kruijswijk and Matthews were removed from the event.

Then Jumbo-Visma announced a few minutes before the start of the stage that he was also withdrawing the rest of his team. However, the stage started with the 20 remaining teams and the 145 remaining riders.

“We have all been in contact with [Kruijswijk] over the last few days, ”Jumbo-Visma athletic director Addy Engels told RAI state television. “So the risk of passing it on to someone else has been there for several days. We are not going to continue to take the risk. ”

In addition, a member of the Ineos Grenadiers team and a member of the AG2R-La Mondiale staff returned positive and were placed in isolation.

Giro director Mauro Vegni has suggested that the race will not have a winner if it does not end as planned in Milan on October 25. The race has already been postponed from its usual May slot due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This morning all teams with positive cases received new rapid tests and we will do it again tomorrow,” Vegni said. “We’ve done almost 1,500 tests and frankly, it’s impossible to do more than that.

“The goal for everyone is always to reach Milan. ”

Italy has around 5,000 new cases of the coronavirus a day, which has prompted the government to consider more restrictions after making masks mandatory outside last week.

Stage 10 of the Giro took place in the central Abruzzo region, over a 177-kilometer (110-mile) stage from Lanciano to Tortoreto.

Mitchelton-Scott general manager Brent Copeland said the team’s positives came back after a third round of testing in three days.

“As a social responsibility to our riders and our staff, the peloton and the race organization, we have made a clear decision to withdraw,” said Copeland. “Fortunately, those affected remain asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. … We are now focusing on transporting them safely to the areas where they are most comfortable to undergo a period of quarantine. ”

Kruijswijk finished 11th overall, 1 minute, 24 seconds behind race leader Joao Almeida. He finished three career top 10s in the Giro.

“Within the team, we take a lot of measures to avoid contamination. And I just feel good. I can’t believe I figured it out. It is a great disappointment to have this news, ”said Kruijswijk. “It’s a shame that I have to leave the Giro this way. ”

Matthews wasn’t in the overall standings – he was almost an hour behind Almeida – but he’s a punchy rider and strong sprinter who was aiming for stage wins. The Australian rider has won a total of eight stages in the three Grand Tours – the Giro (two), the Tour de France (three) and the Spanish Vuelta (three).

Sunweb said Matthews “is currently asymptomatic, feels healthy and after receiving the results early this morning he is now in quarantine. The team added that all of their other runners and staff returned negative tests.

Matthews has finished in the top five three times in this year’s race, including a second place finish on stage six behind Arnaud Demare.

“I’m disappointed that this is how the Giro ends for me after a fantastic first week with the team,” Matthews wrote on Twitter. “For now, I’m going to start my isolation and monitor things closely. Hoping to fully recover and resume racing soon. “

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