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It’s all system’s go for Peter Sagan to race Tour of Flanders on Sunday.
That’s according to Bora-Hansgrohe team officials, who confirmed to VeloNews on Monday that the three-time world champion will race as scheduled Sunday at Tour of Flanders despite a quarantine involving some riders and staff currently in Belgium.
Assuming the 2016 Flanders champion clears required pre-race health controls, Sagan will start Flanders as scheduled, officials confirmed to VeloNews.
The team was not allowed to race Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem after the race’s “COVID czar” ruled that part of the team’s on-site staffers and riders must enter quarantine.
Sagan — hot off his first win in 2021 during last week’s Volta a Catalunya in Spain — was not part of the roster that is now under doctor-ordered isolation in Belgium.
Also read: Oh-so-close for Sagan at Milano-Sanremo
Sagan, meanwhile, said he’s not where he’d like to be in terms of fitness going into the important block of racing at Flanders and Paris-Roubaix next month. Sagan fended off his own COVID infection earlier this year following a training camp on Spain’s Canary Islands.
“Although I’m satisfied that my form is getting better, I haven’t reached yet the level I should normally have at this stage of the season,” Sagan wrote on his personal website. “There is just one thing to do, keep working towards the next goals.”
It was a hard but good @VoltaCatalunya and I'm happy to win a stage in my first participation. My form is getting better but it isn't where it should be. It's a motivation to keep working for the next goals! @BORAGmbH @Hansgrohe_PR @iamspecialized https://t.co/yOVxqX6AtZ
— Peter Sagan (@petosagan) March 28, 2021
After Catalunya, Sagan returned to Monaco, and will likely travel to Belgium on Thursday.
The update comes as Bora-Hansgrohe officials scramble to try to get a handle on a doctor’s decision to send some of its riders and staffers into a COVID quarantine over the weekend.
A positive COVID-19 diagnosis late last week involving Bora-Hansgrohe rider Matthew Walls triggered a chain of events that saw the team sidelined during both E3 Saxo Bank Classic on Friday and Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday.
Walls tested for COVID-19 in pre-race controls, and the team did not start E3 Saxo Bank Classic on Friday. Despite 17 other riders and staffers testing later testing negative in follow-up controls, a race doctor prevented the team from racing Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem, and ordered several riders and staff into isolation until April 1.
That also means the team will miss Wednesday’s Dwars door Vlaanderen, but officials said the team still plans to race Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday with Sagan.
Bora-Hansgrohe officials said they are frustrated by what they say is a lack of transparency about how the rules were applied under the COVID protocol introduced since the outbreak last year.
Under the protocol, anyone with direct contact with an infected person is quarantined. Others who have not been in direct contact and who have tested negative in followup tests, however, are usually cleared to compete.
With Belgium coming under additional strain from a spike in COVID cases, however, it appears a race doctor imposed a stricter interpretation of the rules this weekend, and sidelined Bora-Hansgrohe on Sunday.
Bora-Hansgrohe will miss Dwars door Vlaanderen
Team officials said Monday they were still trying to get clarification from health officials.
Bora-Hansgrohe manager Ralph Denk, speaking over the weekend, expressed his dismay.
“I am very disappointed and angry. A [general practitioner] from the region can block an entire team in one of the largest one-day races in the world,” Denk said in a team statement.
“However, we of course have other riders and staff on site, so [some] of them were also ordered to be in quarantine,” Denk said. “Who was selected and the reasons are completely unclear and it seems rather arbitrary. Honestly, I can’t understand why other teams are allowed to race after similar cases.
“We are testing every day at the moment and all the tests so far have been negative, without exception,” Denk said. “The part of the team that has been quarantined will be quarantined until 1 April. This also means that we cannot start at Dwars Door Vlaanderen.”
Gent-Wevelgem race officials, however, supported the quarantine move.
Trek-Segafredo, which also saw a staffer test positive, decided to pull its men’s team out of Gent-Wevelgem as a precaution. The team is awaiting the results from a new round of tests before deciding if it will race Dwars on Wednesday.