Giro d'Italia

Report: EF Pro Cycling calls on Giro d’Italia organizers to halt race

American-based team petitioned UCI and RCS Sport to declare a race winner following the upcoming rest day.

U.S.-registered WorldTour team EF Pro Cycling has reportedly petitioned Giro d’Italia operator RCS Sport to put an immediate stop to the 2020 Giro, citing concerns over the worsening COVID-19 situation in Italy.

It was reported by Eurosport that the team managed by Jonathan Vaughters wrote a letter to the Giro organizers, as well as the UCI, and the other teams. In the letter, EF suggested it would be wise to end the race following the second rest day on Monday, October 19 and to award winners at that time. Citing the 11 COVID-19 positive cases within the professional race, thus far, EF said it would withdraw its entire squad from the race should any of its riders test positive for the virus, or, if riders or staff grow uncomfortable with the situation at the event.

“For the health and safety of riders, staff, and the communities through which we race, we recommend that the Giro be stopped early,” read the letter. “We believe it would be better for the Giro and the UCI World Tour should this be done in a systematic, holistic way versus a chaotic withdrawal on a team by team basis.”

In a response letter, Giro organizers and the UCI refused the proposal. The letter, which was signed by UCI President David Lappartient, said the two parties are committed to implementing a secure race bubble at the event.

“With these measures, we trust in everyone’s cooperation in the common goal of continuing our sport in the safest possible conditions,” read the letter. “The outcome of these measures will be closely monitored throughout the continuation of the event and for any additional measure.”

The back-and-forth comes several days after the Giro was thrown into question by results of COVID-19 tests administered on the race’s first rest day. The tests showed that the virus had made its way into the race bubble, with 11 riders and staffers testing positive. After the results, Jumbo-Visma and Mitchelton-Scott removed their entire squads from the race.

EF Pro Cycling’s letter reads as follows:

Dear RCS, UCI, Stakeholders and Teams,
Thank you for your efforts to produce a safe and compelling Giro d’Italia. We have enjoyed our team at the race so far.Unfortunately, given the news of:
• Reportedly 11 positive tests across four teams within the peloton ‘bubble’
• Estimated positivity rate of ~2 percent, which feels too high in a population that should be protected, asymptomatic, and with an extremely low positivity rate
• An outbreak across teams within the peloton
• With a clearly compromised bubble and an expected lag between exposure and symptoms/positives, it must be expected that further illness will result. This is not a given, but the precautionary principle would suggest we act responsibly and adopt a conservative approach.For the health and safety of riders, staff, and the communities through which we race, we recommend that the Giro be stopped early.We believe it would be better for the Giro and the UCI World Tour should this be done in a systematic, holistic way versus a chaotic withdrawal on a team by team basis. The second rest day seems a natural break in the race to declare winners and a successful 2020 Giro d’Italia.In the meantime, we support the ideas of:
• At least two systematic Covid tests before that rest day and an earlier close to the race if additional tests return positive prior to the rest day
• Properly sealing off the team paddocks in both the start and finish areas and to reinforce safety of the teams in the hotels.While we hope to remain in the race until an official early finish, should anyone on our team test positive or should the riders and staff grow uncomfortable with the situation, we will leave the race at that time and would, of course, give you as much notice as possible.

Thank you for your consideration and continued attention to this situation.

Already experiencing a greatly compressed and reduced racing calendar for the current season due to the pandemic, the UCI appeared reticent to heed the call to stop the race but did offer to conduct additional COVID-19 screening and health and safety controls.

VeloNews reported that of greatest concern to riders and teams was the hotel situation which crammed multiple teams, spectators, and press into close quarters, in shared hotels.