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Tour de France

Jumbo-Visma’s lead sport director hit by COVID-19

Jumbo-Visma is among several teams hit by COVID just days ahead of the start of the 2022 Tour.

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Just days ahead of the Tour de France, Jumbo-Visma‘s lead sport director Merjin Zeeman is sidelined with a case of COVID-19.

The Dutch director of one of the pre-Tour favorites tested positive at home in the Netherlands before traveling to France.

Zeeman said he would direct the team remotely as he recovers.

Team officials confirmed that all other riders and staffers cleared health screenings, and that Zeeman had not been in direct contact with anyone on the team in the days leading up to the Tour.

Sport director Grischa Niermann said the threat of COVID remains high.

“It brings stress, you never know what’s going to happen,” Niermann said. “I saw him for the last time two weeks ago. We all past a negative test before coming here. That’s something that will play a role in the Tour.

“If you saw what happened at the Tour de Suisse, it scared us quite a bit that COVID is not over. It showed that riders can test positive during the Tour de France and the race can be over,” he said. “We can do what we can do possible to avoid it.

“We wear a mask all the time. We do a lot of testing. We try to stay away from other people. We will try stay away from the fans and from the journalists. We cannot do more than that, and we are still looking forward to the Tour de France.”

Also read: UCI updates COVID protocols

The team pulled its squad out of the Tour de Suisse earlier this month as a precautionary measure after COVID spread across the race.

Jumbo-Visma is among several teams hit by COVID just days ahead of the start of the 2022 Tour.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s Tim De Clerq was also infected, and is off the team with Florian Sénéchel as his replacement. Mark Cavendish is the team’s next designated replacement rider.

The infections come as the UCI reaffirmed its COVID testing policy will remain in place across the Tour, with controls and health screenings scheduled before the race and during each rest day.