Pogačar, Hirschi set to ride Liege after UAE Team Emirates 'false positives'

UAE Team Emirates hope to ride Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, indicating that young stars of the sport Tadej Pogačar, Marc Hirschi and Brandon McNulty will be on the start line if they all test negative for COVID-19 before the race.

Marc Hirschi and Tadej Pogacar congratulate one another at the 2020 Liege-Bastogne-Liege

Marc Hirschi and Tadej Pogacar congratulate one another at the 2020 Liege-Bastogne-Liege Source: Getty / Getty Images

The team was stopped from riding Wednesday's La Flèche Wallonne after two positive COVID-19 tests earlier in the week to rider Diego Ulissi and team manager Mauro Gianetti.

They and the other members of the team underwent further tests before La Flèche Wallonne and were negative for COVID-19, suggesting the cases may have been false positives. However, under the strict Belgian Cycling Federation COVID-19 protocol, the whole team was barred from racing on Wednesday.

Ulissi and Gianetti subsequently tested negative in two rapid antigen tests and a PCR test but the team was still not allowed to race as a precautionary measure.

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Pogačar and other riders completed a 200km reconnaissance ride of the Liège-Bastogne-Liège route, and the team is still keen to compete, saying that they will pass the same requirements as the other teams, with test three days prior to the event.

Ulissi, who will not ride Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and Gianetti have reportedly headed home to Switzerland. Neither reportedly showed symptoms of COVID-19.

Gianetti was vaccinated against COVID-19 during the winter in the UAE as part of the country’s testing of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine. Ulissi was not vaccinated because he was out of action due to his now resolved heart problem.

27 riders and 32 staff members received the vaccine which had been approved early by the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention.

Despite missing La Flèche Wallonne, the team now appear confident they can race Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

"We've been given the all-clear to race Sunday (pending negative test results Friday)," UAE Team Emirates told Cyclingnews. "This is the same test which applies to all teams -3 days before the race." 


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2 min read
Published 23 April 2021 at 9:47am
By SBS Cycling Central
Source: SBS