'The health risks are simply too great' - CCC-Liv a DNS in Pamplona
With the WorldTour officially underway next weeked at Strade Bianche, a number of the top women's pro teams were set to stretch their race legs in Spain with the Emakumeen Nafarroako Klasikoa tonight (AEST) and the Klasikoa Navarra tomorrow night (Friday 24 July AEST).
CCC-Liv announced this afternoon (AEST) it is now a DNS for both those races citing coronavirus concerns.
“We have set ourselves a very strict health protocol in recent months," team manager Eric van den Boom said via a team statement. "All this to minimise the risks of contamination with COVID-19."
"We were delighted to finally be able to race again, but on Wednesday it turned out that the health risks in the Navarra region are too great.”
“We have followed all protocols and know from the daily health monitoring of riders and staff that none of us are infected with COVID-19.
"Should we start on Thursday, we will come into contact with riders whose, as it turns out, is at most uncertain whether they have also undergone the mandatory RT-PCR test.
"In addition, the number of infections at the competition location has risen considerably in two days.”
“In consultation with our team doctor, we had to make the painful decision not to start on Thursday and Friday.
"Instead, the riders in Spain stay together in the protected team bubble. It is a damper for everyone involved in the cycling team, but the health of our people is always paramount. The intention is to start on Sunday in Durango-Durango. ”
CCC-Liv's doubts exist despite UCI implementing a strict set of measures for both the WorldTour and lower levels of racing.
The Cyclists' Alliance, a special group representing a significant amount of pro riders in the women's peloton, published a statement early this morning (AEST) expressing its concerns the UCI's measures have not been adhered to by the Emakumeen Nafarroako Klasikoa.
"We understand there is insufficient evidence the Covid Protocol has been followed, and teams have not received details of the risk assessment from the race organisers.
"As the UCI platform specified in the Covid Protocol is not yet available, neither we, nor teams, have visibility on what, if any, risk mitigation steps have been taken.
"Not all teams have done the (RT PCR) test as required and the local region is in WHO phase 4*: 53 new cases of Covid-19 on 100.000 in the past week. Phase 4 indicates a significant increase in risk of reaching pandemic status.
"The TCA suggests there are significant risks which may not have been adequately mitigated and we ask the governing body (UCI) ensure it has reviewed the risks of the race...and takes a decision on whether this race should go ahead."
UCI's strict coronavirus measures - are they enough?
The 19-page 'Procedures to be followed for the re-opening of the road cycling season in the context of the coronavirus pandemic' document has been published for both WorldTour/Women's WorldTour and UCI Class 1 and 2 events.
The measures include:
- Pre-race: organisers must first assess if the race should even go ahead using the matrix outlined
- A COVID-19 coordinator must be appointed by race management to ensure adherence to the UCI's strict measures
- Riders/teams at the race put in a ‘life bubble’, i.e. a floor for each team in race hotels including a team-only dining room.
- At stage races: organisers must also designate an isolation room – one for each team - for anyone with coronavirus symptoms
- Riders and staff must undergo clinical and biological health checks before travelling to the race
- Restrictions must be put in place to ensure those working on the race can maintain a 1.5 metre distance from each other including media zones, official zones and the VIP area.
- Spectator numbers limited in start/finish areas of each race or stage, in line with the rules of the relevant government.
- Safe distance between riders and spectators with fans encouraged to don masks.
- Post-race award ceremonies - athletes must wear a mask, crowds and photographer numbers restricted
But after CCC-Liv's withdrawal and The Cyclists' Alliance expressing its concerns, can riders and teams of both the men's and women's pelotons trust the UCI's measures if there is seemingly no adequate policing of its own protocols?