Sunweb sends home rider for breaking COVID-19 protocol

Australian rider went shopping for shampoo and then got sent home from training camp after breaking 'bubble' rules.

How serious are teams taking health protocols in the coronavirus era? Very.

Team Sunweb sent home Michael Storer from a team training camp in the Austrian Alps this week after breaking team protocols and leaving its “bubble” with an unauthorized exit. According to the website Wielerflits, Storer went shopping for shampoo, and staffers were alerted that he had broken out of the team’s controlled zone.

Team Sunweb confirmed the departure to VeloNews, saying that Storer’s departure from the camp was only a “precautionary” measure to assure that other teammates and staffers are not exposed to a possible infection of COVID-19.

“It’s purely as a precaution and Michael completely understands that himself,” a press statement read. “Top sport [during coronavirus] is a new situation for everyone. A lot is asked from people and of course, we all understand that riders and staff need to get used to the new measures.”

Teams across the peloton have been unrolling their respective protocols and measures they are introducing to limit the risk of infection among staffers and riders as racing is set to resume later this month for the first time since March.

Team Sunweb is decamped at Kühtai, Austria, in a hotel that is only being used by the team with no other guests. Everyone underwent a battery of tests before joining the team for the important training camp with racing just around the corner.

The squad is split up into different training groups, with staffers and sport directors staying within the same group of riders throughout the duration of the camp. It’s part of a larger strategy to keep riders clear of infection as well as to limit the amount of exposure to the general public.

“Interaction outside of the bubbles is limited to the minimum, to decrease the risk of infection,” the team said. “This is not only to protect ourselves against the virus, but also to minimize the risk of carrying it into the peloton, once racing restarts for us on August 1.”