• Mathieu van der Poel was in the lead of the UAE Tour before a positive COVID result on his team saw him and his team withdrawn (UAE Tour)Source: UAE Tour
Race leader Mathieu van der Poel and his Alpecin-Fenix squad have been withdrawn from the UAE Tour after a positive test for COVID-19.
SBS Cycling Central

22 Feb 2021 - 9:39 PM 

An Alpecin-Fenix staff member tested positive overnight in the wake of van der Poel's dramatic success on the first wind-blown stage of the UAE Tour.

"We can confirm that we have withdrawn from the race," read a statement from Alpecin-Fenix on Twitter. "More information will be given soon. The wellbeing of everyone involved is our main concern."

David Dekker (Jumbo-Visma) will inherit the race lead for Stage 2, a 13km time trial at Hudayriyat Island.

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UAE Tour organiser RCS Sport said that the staff member had tested positive for coronavirus following a series of peloton-wide testing after the first stage. The Alpecin-Fenix team have entered self-isolation and will undergo further testing in the coming days.

"Alpecin-Fenix, in agreement with the UAE Tour organiser, have decided to withdraw its team from the race, in order to safeguard the race bubble and ensure the safe continuation of the race," read the statement from race organisers.

"The team was notified of one positive result of a member of its staff from the round of tests conducted on Sunday evening, 21st of February. Upon receiving the results, the person immediately went into isolation, and all those who came into contact with this person are self-isolating, in compliance with the protocol measures put in place by the race organisers and UAE Health Authorities.

"All team members will undertake further tests in the coming days, while they remain in isolation."

Last year’s UAE Tour was suspended two days before the finish after cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in the race caravan, and four teams remained quarantined in Abu Dhabi for many days afterward. It was the first big impact of the pandemic on the 2020 season and it appears the UAE Tour's unlucky relationship with the virus is set to continue.