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The Cyclists’ Alliance raises health concerns at opening Spanish races

Rider group warns of apparent lack of compliance with COVID procedures and worsening health conditions.

Women’s racing is slated to return Thursday at the 1.1-tier Emakumeen Nafarroako in Spain, but there is growing concern about how safe the event might be.

The Cyclists’ Alliance, the independent union for female cyclists, issued a statement Wednesday night highlighting areas the group considers the race may fail to comply with the recently-released UCI-mandated COVID-19 protocols.

“We are of the view that the risk assessment of the race [Thursday] may result in a ‘high’ rating and this, together with the below, has given the TCA cause for concern,” read the release from the group that includes many top women’s racers.

“The TCA suggests that there are significant risks which may not have been adequately mitigated and we ask the governing body (UCI) ensures it has reviewed the risks of the race, as at today’s date, and takes a decision on whether this race should go ahead.”

Thursday sees the first of three one-day races set in northern Spain. Thursday’s Emakumeen Nafarroako is followed by Clasica Femenina Navarra on Friday, and Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria on Saturday. As the first races back since the coronavirus shutdown, the races are drawing a stellar field, with Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (CCC-Liv) and Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott) among those expected to start.

The Cyclists’ Alliance statement comes off the back of a rise in new coronavirus cases in the Navarra region that hosts the trio of races, reporting that the area has seen a count of 53 cases per 100,000 per week. The rate fits the World Health Organization’s “Phase 4” category of risk, or sufficient transmission levels to cause “community-level outbreaks.”

TCA’s statement comes off the back of a review performed by their medical advisors, which has highlighted “there is insufficient evidence that the COVID protocol has been followed, and teams have not received details of the risk assessment from the race organizers.” The review also confirmed that not all teams set to race have performed the RT PCR coronavirus test required by the UCI’s health guidelines.

The men’s peloton is set to return to action at the nearby Vuelta a Burgos (July 28 to August 1). The race is slated to see 15 WorldTour teams on the start line and officials remain optimistic the race will go ahead as planned.