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Tom Dumoulin will not race at Strade Bianche after contracting COVID-19, according to a report by Dutch website Wielerflits.
Jumbo-Visma confirmed Friday morning that Dumoulin would not be at the Italian one-day race but said that it was because he was “not fit” to compete.
However, Wielerflits reported that the Dutch rider had returned a positive coronavirus test Friday morning ahead of the race, which takes place in Tuscany on Saturday. He is not the only rider to pull out with illness, with Team DSM’s Romain Bardet also sitting it out, though the team has not confirmed what his illness is.
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Dumoulin made his season debut at the UAE Tour late last month, where he put in a strong performance in the time trial to finish third. However, he was dropped during the mountain stages and subsequently finished in 43rd overall.
He is due to ride the Giro d’Italia in May as co-leader with Norwegian champion Tobias Foss.
With Dumoulin out, it is 2018 Strade Bianche champion Tiesj Benoot that will have sole leadership of the team this weekend.
.@tom_dumoulin is not fit and therefore won’t start in Strade Bianche.
— Team Jumbo-Visma cycling (@JumboVismaRoad) March 4, 2022
Benoot joined Jumbo-Visma over the winter and had a strong debut at the Belgian ‘opening weekend’ last week, helping to set up Wout van Aert’s win at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and riding aggressively at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.
“Strade is special for me. I got my first pro victory there and it’s also my best victory thus far. I’ve always ridden well there, too, and I almost always made it to the final,” Benoot said. “I really like to go racing in Italy and I just love Tuscany. It’s a beautiful region with lots of good food and drinks. I will go there again with a good feeling.
“Strade is the kind of race where bad luck can be a deciding factor though I will be very confident at the start because the team is outstanding. I’m going for as high a result as possible.”
Benoot, who will go on to race Tirreno-Adriatico next week, will be joined by Sepp Kuss, Robert Gesink, Koen Bouwman, Timo Roosen and Milan Vader at Strade Bianche.