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Vuelta a Espana

Wout Poels, Pieter Serry latest to leave Vuelta a España with COVID

Quick-Step workhorse Serry's departure leaves Vuelta leader Remco Evenepoel short of key climber.

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Bahrain Victorious workhorse Wout Poels and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl climber Pieter Serry left the Vuelta a España on Sunday morning.

“Wout Poels will not start stage 9 of La Vuelta a España due to a positive COVID-19 test with mild symptoms,” Bahrain Victorious confirmed.

“All other riders and staff have returned negative tests. The team will start the race today with seven riders.”

Serry confirmed his condition soon afterward.

“I’m so so disappointed to leave the Vuelta. COVID-19 got me for the first time, and yes, I’m ill. I wish my team all the best, you guys are all strong enough to fight for the red jersey,” Serry wrote.

The news comes hot off the back of a clutch of COVID withdrawals Saturday. Nikias Arndt, Mark Donovan (both Team DSM) and Anthony Delaplace (Arkéa-Samsic) all tested positive and left the race ahead of stage 8. Poels and Serry’s exits mark the eight and ninth cases of COVID-19 in this year’s race, all coming in the past five days.

Compulsory coronavirus testing of the remaining peloton will take place on the rest day Monday.

Serry was one of the most experienced climbers in Remco Evenepoel’s mountain train. The 33-year-old packed experience from 13 grand tours and was a constant in the longer climbs.

Poels’ exit leaves Bahrain Victorious one rider down in its bid to revive a stuttering Vuelta a España.

GC hope Mikel Landa dropped out of the classification scrap early in the first week and reverted to stage-hunting. He and teammate Gino Mäder are 23rd and 24th respectively, three minutes off the pace.

Fred Wright made himself busy keeping Bahrain Victorious in the headlines with two trips to the podium after narrowly missing stage victory.