Three days before the first race of the revised WorldTour gets under way, the cycling season has been handed cause for concern after three more riders were pulled from the Vuelta a Burgos in Spain on Wednesday.
Although a handful of races have been completed after an easing of lockdown restrictions following the coronavirus pandemic, the Vuelta a Burgos is the highest-profile men's race to have returned to the calendar, featuring grand tour winners Simon Yates, Fabio Aru, Richard Carapaz and Alejandro Valverde along with world champions Mads Pedersen and Mark Cavendish.
Ahead of Tuesday's opening stage, won by Austrian rider Felix Grosschartner from Bora-Hansgrohe, British time trial champion Alex Dowsett and his Israel Start-Up Nation team-mate Itamor Einhorn were withdrawn from the race after another team-mate Omer Goldstein, who is not racing in Spain, had tested positive for coronavirus. Although Goldsteinis not at the race in northern Spain, it was revealed he had had contact with Einhorn in the countdown to the Vuelta a Burgos.
Despite returning negative tests, the results were not delivered to the team until the race had started forcing Dowsett and Einhorn to withdraw.
On Wednesday three more riders — Colombians Juan Sebastián Molano, Cristian Muñoz and Camilo Ardila from UAE Team Emirates — were forced to abandon when it was revealed that they too had come into contact with somebody from outside the race who had tested positive.
“Sebastián Molano, Cristian Muñoz and Camilo Ardila will not start the second stage of the Vuelta a Burgos,” UAE Team Emirates said in a statement. “The three Colombian athletes on Saturday had been in recent contact with a person who turned out to be positive at Covid-19 yesterday. Following the protocol of the team and the UCI, the three riders were isolated, sent home and will all undergo another test.
“All three riders returned two negative tests in the days prior to the race.”
Molano, Muñoz and Ardila were sent home to isolate and will later undergo further tests.
Strade Bianche, the first WorldTour race of the revised men's professional calendar, is due to get under way in Siena on Saturday.