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The United Arab Emirates announced on March 3 that six more people from the UAE Tour have tested positive for the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. It’s been five days since race organizers and the UCI decided to cancel the UAE Tour after two Italian staff members tested positive for the coronavirus on February 27, triggering a mandatory quarantine for all riders and team members who potentially came in contact with them.
The report cited two Russians, two Italians, a German, and a Columbian as those who tested positive.
While most of the teams have been allowed to return home after being assessed by health officials, there are currently four teams still under quarantine in their hotel: Cofidis, Groupama-FDJ, Gazprom, and UAE Team Emirates.
UAE Team Emirates has stated that although they’ve been cleared to leave, the team has decided to stay in a self-imposed quarantine as a precaution. The other three teams, however, have not yet been cleared, despite most of the other teams being able to leave two days ago. They’ve also undergone a second round of testing for the coronavirus.
“I think that this situation really isn’t normal,” Team Cofidis president Thierry Vittu said in a statement on the team’s website. “We’re being held against our will in a place we didn’t choose and for an unknown period of time.”
Team Groupama-FDJ shared in a Tweet on March 2 that its team members are still being quarantined, despite successfully passing the first round of tests. They’re now awaiting the results of the remaining seven tests and stated that the first five came back negative.
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The quarantine has challenged these professional cyclists in new ways. As Team Cofidis cyclist Nathan Haas pointed out, his team has now spent more days being quarantined in the UAE than racing.
Aside from coronavirus worries, the quarantine has been especially detrimental for the cyclists as they’re now faced with additional concerns over losing fitness from being off the bike for so long. Five days off the bike might seem like nothing to most, but it could very well negatively impact a pro cyclist at the start of race season.
Some of the teams are finally starting to receive bike trainers so they can at least train inside. Now, they just need bikes.
Yet, in the midst of their frustration, some are trying to make the best of it. Being cooped up in a hotel room (plus hallway) for five days undoubtedly forces you to become resourceful. Just take Groupama-FDP cyclist Arnaud Demare, who figured out that he could use his room’s clothing iron as a makeshift jump rope.