The Colombian Sports Ministry announced on Thursday that a chartered flight from Bogotá, Colombia to Madrid, Spain will depart on Sunday, July 19, carrying a whos-who of the upper echelons of pro cycling.
2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal (Team Ineos), Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic), Rigoberto Urán (EF Pro Cycling), and Miguel Ángel López (Astana) will be among 150 athletes planned to be aboard a special flight on Colombian airline Avianca.
“Our athletes will be able to arrive in Europe to comply with competition schedules, which is fundamental in their development, which has been altered in the first half of the year by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the Colombian minister of sport, Ernesto Lucena, to several news outlets.
“When they arrive in Madrid, athletes will not have to place themselves in quarantine, since the Spanish government considers the tests and pre-trip protocols sufficient,” added the minister.
The full passenger manifest will be released on Saturday, pending COVID-19 screening of all passengers.
The Colombian cyclists are eager to get to Europe to rejoin their teams for last-minute preparations for the restart of racing just a few days after their arrival, beginning with the Vuelta a Burgos (July 28) and Strade Bianche (August 1).
Juan Diego Zapata, director of Avianca airlines said, “Each stage of the flight would follow all the health recommendations of the World Health Organization,” and respective governments.
The pandemic forced Colombia to close its borders and halt commercial flights since March 18.
In a nation of 49.6 million, there have been 165,000 cases and 5,000 deaths according to official statistics.