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Riders must clear two COVID-19 tests before racing

The UCI has released more COVID-19 regulations as riders and teams prepare to race.

Riders must clear two pre-race screenings for COVID-19 before being allowed to resume competition in WorldTour and Pro Series races. Anyone testing positive for the coronavirus will not be allowed to compete.

That’s according to updated UCI rules and protocols released this week ahead of a return to competition for the first time since March.

Riders must return negative on two controls — one at six days before a race and a second at three days before — before being allowed to race. Additional testing will be required after 10 days if they’re not in a longer stage race, and a new series of tests will be required before anyone is allowed to race if they’ve been away from racing for more than two weeks.

The UCI also outlined more details about how to monitor and gauge would-be risk factors throughout competition. Each race will have a designated ‘COVID czar,’ who will make sure rules are being followed and act as a point-guard for health and safety protocols.

So, what happens if there is a positive case within a race? According to the latest documents, the UCI will consult with race organizers and national health authorities to make “the decision appropriate to the situation,” a document read.

With the WorldTour ramping up August 1 with Strade Bianche, and with the women’s peloton back into gear this week in Spain, many riders are already undergoing a battery of tests that are now part of the new reality of racing in the COVID-19 era.

Teams have already been ramping up their testing protocol ahead of training camps in the anticipation of a return to racing. Many of Europe’s top stars on the men’s side will race for the first time at the Vuelta a Burgos (July 29 to August 1) in northern Spain.

Many teams have already built “bubbles” at training camps with riders and staffers that will travel together to races. It’s all part of a larger strategy to limit exposure and diminish risk of infection with racing once again on the horizon.

After some teams pointed out the high costs to roll out protocol and safety measures, the UCI has arranged that samples can be sent to laboratories in Denmark and later in Belgium at a lower rate, with each test running between 15 and 25 euros each. That will help ease some of the financial burden on teams, many who have seen their budgets ravaged during the race stoppage.