CCC-Liv pulls out of two Spanish races

Teams and riders worried about uncertainty of pre-race controls, worsening COVID-19 breakouts.

Confusion and uncertainty Thursday about COVID-19 protocols is throwing the first major races on the revived women’s calendar into turmoil.

Citing health and safety concerns, CCC-Liv pulled out of races scheduled Thursday and Friday in northern Spain. Team officials also raised concerns that not all riders on rival teams have cleared required pre-race controls that prove they are free of COVID-19.

“In consultation with our team doctor, we had to make the difficult decision not to start on Thursday and Friday,” said team manager Eric van den Boom. “Instead, the riders stay together in the protected team bubble in Spain. It is a disappointment for everyone involved in the cycling team, but the health of our people always comes first. The intention is to start in Durango-Durango on Sunday.”

Overnight, the Cyclists’ Alliance raised the alarm bell about inconsistencies in pre-race controls and larger concerns about a worsening health situation in parts of Spain, where up to 200 breakouts of the coronavirus have been detected across the country.

Under UCI rules as part of racing’s revived calendar following a four-month stop, riders and teams must be able to prove that all their starting racers have cleared a COVID-19 control at least three days before the start of a race.

Team sources told VeloNews that some major teams were scrambling Thursday morning to get their test results returned in time for the race, and that some teams have not been able to produce the required documentation.

With the Thursday’s race — the Emakumeen Nafarroako Klasikoa — not scheduled to start until 15:55 local time, organizers and teams are working to try to get final-hour test results, sources told VeloNews. The same questions loom for Friday’s Klasikoa Navarra.

CCC-Liv, which features superstar Marianne Vos, said the uncertainty was too high, and decided to pull out of Thursday’s and Friday’s races.

“We have set ourselves a very strict health protocol in recent months,” van den Boom said. “All this to minimize the risks of contamination with COVID-19. We were delighted to finally be able to race again; however on Wednesday, it turned out that the health risks in the Navarra region are too great.

“We’ve followed all protocols and know from the daily health monitoring of riders and staff that none of us are infected with COVID-19,” he continued. “Should we enter the race on Thursday, we will come into contact with riders who, as it turns out, might not have undergone the mandatory RT-PCR test. In addition, the number of infections at the location of the races has considerably increased in two days.”