Spain to allow non-European riders into country

New ruling should open way for Egan Bernal and dozens of other Colombian pros to fly to Madrid later this month.

Tour De France winner Egan Bernal can at least get to Spain — that’s after Spanish authorities approved rules to allow essential workers to enter the country.

In the wake of last week’s announcement that the EU was to close its borders to travelers from a number of nations including Colombia and the United States, a relaxation of rules in Spain offers a glimmer of hope to many pro riders looking to return to Europe in advance of the resumed 2020 race season. Among them are Bernal and nearly 200 other Colombian athletes currently scheduled to fly to Madrid on July 19 on a specially-chartered flight from Bogotá.

The new ruling by Spain’s Interior minister published Saturday will allow “highly-qualified workers whose work is necessary and cannot be postponed or carried out remotely, including those participating in high-level sports events that take place in Spain” to enter the country as of this weekend.

Initial guidance published by the EU this week only permitted those from restricted countries with residency cards or visas to return to Europe. However, the ruling by Spanish authorities this weekend offers a possible pathway into the EU for all riders from the pro peloton. Details are still emerging of the new guidance, including whether athletes from the United States are able to travel, and whether those that make it to Spain are then able to move into other EU countries such as France and Italy.

The news is part of an evolving situation that has seen Europe selectively close its borders as a possible growing wave of COVID-19 cases emerges in the Americas. This week, Deceuninck-Quick-Step rookie Ian Garrison was turned away from a flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam due to the tighter restrictions on global travel.

While the relaxation of restrictions on travel to Spain bodes well for season-starting Vuelta a Burgos later this month, question marks remain over whether the likes of Bernal, Nairo Quintana and Rigoberto Uran will be able to move into France for marquee events such as the August Tour de France.