News

Israel Start-Up Nation pulls rider from Vuelta a Burgos due to COVID-19 concerns

Israel Start-Up Nation removed rider Itamar Einhorn from its Vuelta a Burgos as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19. Einhorn did not test positive, yet he was in contact with a teammate who did.

Israel Start-Up Nation pulled a rider from the Vuelta a Burgos set to start Tuesday as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19, team officials confirmed to VeloNews on Monday night.

Israeli rider Itamar Einhorn, 22, was slated to start Tuesday’s five-day Burgos tour. Einhorn did not test positive for COVID-19 in pre-race screenings, but team officials will not start him Tuesday in the first stage of the Burgos tour because he was in close contact with another team rider who did.

Omer Goldstein, a 23-year-old Israeli rider, recorded a positive result for COVID-19 in team-ordered controls on Monday. Goldstein was not scheduled to race the Burgos tour and remains at his home in Girona, Spain.

Einhorn reportedly spent time with Goldstein in Girona before traveling to Burgos on a team bus alongside two other staffers, team officials said. Team officials said the remainder of the team remains free of COVID-19, and will take Tuesday’s start with a six-rider squad.

The team’s other riders slated to start Burgos have been re-tested and are waiting for results, but team officials say that none of them came in direct contact with Goldstein in the past few days.

Race organizers confirmed to VeloNews on Monday evening that all riders on the final start list tested negative for COVID-19. Einhorn was not on the final Israel Start-Up Nation Burgos roster.

The development comes as riders and teams are already on edge ahead of cycling’s return following a four-month stop in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Teams and race organizers have spent tens of thousands of euros trying to create COVID-free zones around their riders and key staffers, who have undergone a battery of COVID-19 controls.

Everyone in the peloton is keenly aware of the stakes as cycling returns to racing in the midst of a world pandemic. Some 14 WorldTour teams are slated to start the five-day race across northern Spain. With COVID-19 cases spiking across other parts of Spain, race officials are still hopeful the race will be contested as planned.

>> Full statement from Israel Start-Up Nation on Monday night:

Team ISN have incorporated strict guidelines and protocols for the current pandemic and respects the guidelines of local authorities and the UCI for returning to racing. We consider it our professional and personal duty to protect the health of all around us.

The riders’ and staff’s health situation is monitored continuously by the team and includes a series of COVID 19 tests conducted in recent weeks before the return to competition. Most returned negative so far.

However, this morning ( Monday) Omer Goldstein returned positive for COVID 19. Upon learning this, the Israeli rider, who was scheduled to compete next week and so far was asymptomatic, was quarantined.

The team and Goldstein have cautioned people who were in his close vicinity in recent days and immediately sent those staff members and riders to do new PCR tests.

Among the riders and staff sent for immediate additional COVID 19 tests (all of whom have two negative tests beforehand as per protocols) were some who had already arrived at the team hotel in Burgos to prepare for the Vuelta a Burgos, starting Tuesday. This group included ISN rider Itamar Einhorn, who was the only rider who had been in direct contact with his COVID 19 positive teammate before his arrival to Burgos.

Although the additional test results have not been returned yet, the team doctors have decided to remove Einhorn from the team squad in Burgos as a precautionary measure and continue to monitor the situation.

Team ISN operates under the full supervision of its team doctors, following strict internal protocols, the UCI guidelines and UCI protocols and will take every precautionary measure to make sure the health of its members as well as the public is safeguarded.