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Israel Start-Up Nation rider returns negative COVID-19 control

A string of cases in early races reveal new reality of racing in a world pandemic.

The rider at the center of a coronavirus worry this week who prompted Israel Start-Up Nation to pull two riders from the Vuelta a Burgos is now returning negative controls for COVID-19, officials confirmed Saturday.

Omer Goldstein, who originally tested positive for COVID-19 in results returned Monday, has since tested negative in two follow-up controls, team officials said. Goldstein was given the all-clear to return to training following a cardiovascular screening by team medical staff, officials said.

“Omer will go through a few more tests, but we are hopeful that we can have him race again soon,” said team manager Kjell Carlstrom.

The situation involving Goldstein and Israel Start-Up Nation was the first in the elite men’s as the peloton returned to racing after a four-month stop. The team later removed Itamar Einhorn and Alex Dowsett from the Burgos roster as a precautionary measure after they had had some contact with Goldstein, who was not on the Burgos roster and stayed in Girona, Spain.

The team insisted it followed the correct protocol and pulled out Einhorn and Dowsett, who both later returned negative follow-up controls.

A similar situation unfolded with UAE-Emirates, which pulled three riders from its Burgos roster Wednesday after one of the trio’s training partners in Spain who was not in the race was flagged for a COVID-19 positive. Those three riders also tested negative in follow-up controls.

On Saturday, Ag2r-La Mondiale pulled Silvan Dillier from its Strade Bianche roster after he tested positive for COVID-19 as part of mandated pre-race controls. Dillier tested positive before he had traveled to Italy for the race, so his other teammates had been given the all-clear to race.

The incidents confirmed the new reality of racing in a world pandemic as the revised calendar resumes this month following an unprecedented shutdown since March.