The first for the Israel SN team in a day for adventurers: the British Alex Dowsett conquered this Saturday in Vieste the 8th stage of the Giro d’Italia, which met his first case of covid-19 with the forced abandonment of the British Simon Yates (Mitchelton) .
So far, no rider in the Tour de France, which ended on September 20, or the Giro, which began on October 3, had tested positive for the coronavirus, despite the deterioration of the health situation in Europe.
A statement from the Mitchelton team set off alarms on Saturday morning, before the start of the stage in Giovanezzo (south), informing of the abandonment of Yates, winner of the 2018 Vuelta a España and one of the candidates for the podium of this Giro despite the fact that he faltered on Monday in the first high finish, on Etna.
The Briton developed very mild symptoms once the 7th stage ended on Friday.
“We do routine temperature checks,” explained Dr. Matteo Beltemacchi, team physician. “Simon got a bit of a fever. He was isolated in his room and we immediately asked for a quick test using the services offered by RCS” (organizing company of the Giro).
The riders and staff of the Australian squad, who were tested with negative results, received the green light from the Giro to continue the race. In the next few days they will undergo new tests.
The Giro has planned, like the Tour de France, covid-19 detection rounds, before the race and during the two rest days. But the teams are free to take additional security measures themselves and to request tests, from the first symptoms.
“Yates is the first case after ten days. The rapid detection operations work well, it is what allowed us yesterday (Friday) night to check the positivity of Yates and the negativity of all the other people on the team,” he congratulated himself. the race director Mauro Vegni.
The Giro skipper took the opportunity to criticize the international federation: “If we had followed the protocol established by the International Cycling Union, we would have carried out the test last night, sent it to Milan at dawn and we would not have had the result until tomorrow (Sunday). Yates could have raced today and infected other riders. ”
– No contract but with a baby –
In the stage that ended in the city of Vieste, at the end of the touristy Gargano peninsula, the favorites kept a low profile, despite an acceleration from the Italian Vincenzo Nibali’s teammates after a puncture from the Danish Jakob Fuglsang.
The escapees were able to reach the end of the 200 kilometers without being hunted, especially Dowsett, who gave the Israel SN team its first stage victory in a great lap and also in the WorldTour (1st world division), which the Israeli formation reached this year.
The 32-year-old Briton distanced his five escape companions as they entered the last 20 kilometers, on the winding roads of Gargano. Dowsett delivered as if he were in a time trial, his specialty, since for a few weeks in 2015 he held the world record for the hour before being surpassed by his compatriot Bradley Wiggins.
“I can’t say how much I needed a win like that in such a difficult year!” Dowsett sighed. “I still don’t have a contract for next year and, with a baby due in January, I needed a result so badly that I can’t believe it.”
For the wearer of the pink ‘jersey’, Joao Almeida, the next stage will be more difficult. “It will be harder,” acknowledged the Portuguese cyclist, still impassive, in view of the route of the 9th stage, of 208 kilometers between San Salvo and Roccaraso.
The route ends in height at the end of a mid-mountain route. The final climb in Abruzzo, 9.6 km at 5.7% on average, concludes with steep slopes (12%).
jm / dep / gh / mcd