Some 492 controls were carried out Sunday and Monday on the Giro’s “race bubble,” which also saw a team staffer from AG2r-La Mondiale test positive. Both were removed from the race and placed into isolation.
Despite the two cases, the news comes somewhat as a relief to a tense peloton. Following a wave of cases last week, there was growing concern that the coronavirus might have spread further within the Giro caravan.
“We’re a bit surprised it was only one rider. We’d thought they’d be more,” Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) told VeloNews at the start line Tuesday. “They say it’s a very infectious thing, and we had more positives last time. Actually, a lot of riders are surprised. We were expecting a lot, lot more. We feel sorry for him. When it gets closer and closer, people get more afraid.”
The case marks the second time Gaviria tested positive for COVID-19. The Colombian sprinter was among the first wave of riders to test positive at the UAE Tour in February, just as the coronavirus pandemic was starting to spread. It appears this time the 26-year-old is asymptomatic.
“After undergoing a PCR test on yesterday’s Giro d’Italia rest day, UAE Team Emirates’ Fernando Gaviria has tested positive for COVID-19,” UAE-Emirates said in a press release Tuesday. “All other riders and staff returned a negative test, and will undergo further testing today.”
The original press statement did not mention him by name. Gaviria, who was struggling in the sprints during the Giro, was later identified by his team as the rider who tested positive.
“The team’s medical staff are monitoring the situation closely and doing all they can to ensure that we can proceed safely,” UAE-Emirates said. According to the team, all other riders and staffers, including Americans Joe Dombrowski and Brandon McNulty, will remain in the race after clearing additional health controls.
For Ag2r-La Mondiale, this case is their second positive during the 2020 Giro after another staff member tested positive on the race’s first rest day. Unlike the Tour de France — which stated that any team with two positives would be removed — there is no fixed rule at the Giro other than to remove the infected person.
In the previous round of controls on the Giro’s first rest day last week, two riders — Michael Matthews (Sunweb) and Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) — tested positive, prompting Jumbo-Visma to leave the race. Mitchelton-Scott, which had already seen its GC captain Simon Yates test positive in the first week, also left the Giro when four more staffers also tested positive for COVID-19.
While there were eight positive cases on the first rest day, these latest controls come only days after additional tests carried out on October 15-16 revealed no new cases.
— Jim Cotton and James Startt contributed to this report.
Here is the official statement:
In accordance with the Giro d’Italia health protocol, established as part of the “Rules to be followed for the resumption of the road cycling season in the context of the coronavirus pandemic” drawn up by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), and in compliance with the measures of the Italian Health Ministry, all teams (riders and staff) were tested (PCR control tests) on 18 and 19 October.
A total of 492 tests were carried out:
One rider from UAE—Emirates tested positive for COVID-19; he was referred to his team doctor who organized isolation measures and took necessary action, in compliance with the World Health Organization (WHO) rules, concerning contact cases
One staff member from AG2R-La Mondiale tested positive for COVID-19; he was referred to his team doctor who organized isolation measures and took necessary action, in compliance with the WHO rules, concerning contact cases.