Adam Hansen on the UAE Tour’s coronavirus lockdown: “The mood is good”

"We’re on a race track and there’s Ferraris going around, there’s four or five restaurants here, so it’s not so bad. You know, we've got an internet connection, coffee machines, and so it could be worse. It's very, very comfortable."

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (VN) — Veteran Australian rider Adam Hansen has been placed on lockdown within his hotel in Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, after it was revealed that two members of teams racing the UAE Tour have been tested positive for coronavirus.

The 38-year-old spoke exclusively to VeloNews via skype – a call that connected two quarantined hotels, both equally in the dark about a rapidly-developing situation.

Hansen was calm and laid back as ever, and most importantly, healthy – though there was a definite hint of fatigue and confusion in his voice having spent large parts of the night awake being given news or undergoing testing.

“Personally, it’s like I’m not worried if I get it. Yeah, I’m healthy. I’m young,” he said. “This is worse if we’re a carrier and we pass it on to someone else. That’s the worst thing. The general mood among riders I’ve spoken to is [that they are] relaxed.”

Hansen spoke of the details that had occurred the night before, Thursday, in a hotel that contains half the pro peloton and its team staff.

“Some of the staff members wanted to go out to the cars to fill them with petrol late last night and they weren’t allowed to leave,” Hansen said. “And then we were notified last night at like 12:30 a.m. by the team that we’re gonna all get tested, and riders have been tested until about like 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. in the morning.”

Hansen’s Lotto-Soudal team were lucky to be tested by 5 a.m. Other teams were not tested until the middle of Friday morning.

“They ran out of tests to use,” Hansen said.

In the meantime, life in the hotel had proceeded as normal. While Hansen skipped breakfast Friday morning, other riders mingled over the buffet and gossiped about the crazy, hazy situation. That all changed at around lunchtime, when Hansen and his teammates received a letter through his door.

“A member of staff came around all the rooms and just gave out a letter,” he said. “It just said basically ‘There’s room service if you want fruit or anything, just call zero. Just stay in your rooms’.”

“Just hours before, people had been out on the roof sunbathing, enjoying themselves.”

Hansen indicated he was pleased to have been placed under lockdown – if riders are allowed to socialize and interact, there could be the possibility of cross-contamination, possibly necessitating virus re-testing, and prolonging the unfolding drama.

All the while, riders were kept in the dark.

Just as journalists had undergone testing for coronavirus, and were receiving mixed messages about the time until results became available – some being told six to nine hours, some being told three days — Hansen was also unsure about what’s next, or when his results would be available.

“There were rumors at the start [of the quarantine period] that they were going to let us go if we’re all negative,” Hansen said. “But to be honest, I don’t see this happening. If you look at the Prince Diamond ship, in Japan, they had to stay there for 14 days. And you look at the hotel in Tenerife, and they had to stay there 14 days.”

“I don’t know if they haven’t decided what they want to do with us, and that’s why they’re not informing us what happens if [the tests are] negative, or if they just don’t want to cause panic,” he said.

Discussions with sources from a number of teams have told VeloNews that it’s not just Hansen and his Lotto-Soudal outfit who don’t know next steps. Several teams are currently in their hotel, awaiting updates as to the futures of their riders and staff.

“The thing is, this is the local authorities doing this,” Hansen said. “This is not the race organizer. So the race organizers are treated just like us — they don’t know so much. In some ways, it’s good and bad, it’s good in the sense where, you know, the local authorities said, ‘Okay, look, we’re in charge — we’re handling [this] and we’re doing what is best for the community.’

Adam Hansen at the 2018 Santos Tour Down Under. Photo: Kei Tsuji/Tim De Waele/Getty Images

“So when the teams ask the race organisers, they [are told they] don’t know so much. It’s not like we can get information pretty easy. It’s whatever we get from local authorities.”

Rumors circulating on Twitter, and on the constant buzzing between reporters in the media hotel across the road (from where this report is being filed) suggest that some teams had been told to refrain from speaking to the media. Whether that was imposed by team staff, by RCS Sport, or by medics, is unclear. Hansen, a key member of the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA), was not aware of any agreement.

VeloNews contacted Hansen, again, shortly before filing this report, but Hansen had yet to receive any further information regarding results. While his Lotto-Soudal team has asked riders to stay in their rooms and use room service, Hansen was aware of other teams in the hotel who had been dining together. What the implication of that is, with regards test results, possible cross-contamination or the future implications, is unknown at this time.

At least Hansen can see some small positives, saying: “To be honest, it’s definitely not the worst hotel to be stuck in! We’re on a race track and there’s Ferraris going around, there’s four or five restaurants here, so it’s not so bad. You know, we’ve got an internet connection, coffee machines, and so it could be worse. It’s very, very comfortable. The mood is pretty good.”

Hopefully, the bright atmosphere continues. As to how riders are able to train while the lockdown continues, when all of their equipment is in a storage unit located outside of the hotel, and there’s just “one bike and one trainer in the whole hotel,” is another matter.

Hansen, the designer of custom shoes, and a go-to handyman and electrician from time-to-time for his team, has the situation covered, of course.

“I’ve got my skipping [“jump”] rope. So I’ve already done a skipping session, and some core training,” he said.