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Vuelta a Espana

First COVID withdrawal from Vuelta a España as Daan Hoole leaves race

Hoole tested positive after developing a sore throat overnight.

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Following on from a spate of rider withdrawals from the Tour de France due to COVID-19, Dan Hoole has become the first to be affected by the virus in the Vuelta a España and has left the race.

The 23-year-old Dutch rider had symptoms on Wednesday morning and underwent a test. His Trek-Segafredo team announced the news on Twitter.

“Daan woke up with a slightly sore throat this morning & a subsequent rapid COVID-19 test returned a positive result,” it said.

That left 179 riders in the bunch. Two other riders had withdrawn on earlier stages, Michael Woods (Israel Premier Tech) and Steff Crass (Lotto-Soudal) leaving due to injury.

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Hoole’s absence will be a blow to Mads Pedersen, who has taken second in the past three stages and is second overall to Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) in the points competition.

Hoole and Alex Kirsch started the race as two key leadout riders for Pedersen.

Vuelta a España organizers and the UCI implemented a series of anti-COVID-19 measures prior to the start of the race. These included testing prior to the start of the race and on rest days, plus the requirement for those with positive antigen tests to undergo PCR testing which will then be reviewed by doctors.

There are also requirements for the media and others on the race to undergo COVID-19 testing prior to the race and to wear masks in certain areas.

Race organizers will hope that Hoole’s case is an isolated one and not the start of something which could have wider effects on the peloton.

Close to 20 riders exited the Tour de France with the virus. Rafal Majka (UAE Team Emirates) and Bob Jungels (AG2R-Citroën) both tested positive but were able to stay as the level in his system was determined to be low enough as not to pose a threat to others.