Tour de France riders await coronavirus tests day
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LARUNS – Tour de France teams were crossing their fingers as the peloton headed for the first rest day's battery of coronavirus tests which could trigger team exclusions on Monday.
Some team staff members were tested on Sunday and riders will be submitted to analysis on Monday.
Tour rules state that should two members of a team, staff or riders, test positive for coronavirus, the whole outfit will be kicked out of the race.
Organisers and the International Cycling Union (UCI) are expected to issue a statement on Tuesday before the start of the 10th stage.
"We're crossing our fingers,” Cofidis team manager Cedric Vasseur told reporters. "We took all the procedure to avoid being caught by COVID.
“Even if we are confident, we cannot be 100% sure that nobody will be infected. In any case, if somebody tests positive for COVID, they will be out of the Tour."
Team UAE Emirates sports director Allan Peiper was confident his team had done everything to avoid being infected.
"It’s part and parcel of this Tour,” he said.
"There is no anxiety. We’re in our bubble, we’re safe, we follow the rules and we do what we’re meant to do, and we see nobody else. There won’t be an infection in our group if we follow the rules. I don’t see a problem there."
Riders, however, have expressed concerns that spectators were not being cautious enough, with some of them running alongside the peloton without wearing masks.
"The last few kilometres was like the (Col de) Peyresourde of always but the coronavirus is here and we want the Tour to get to Paris," said Dutchman Tom Dumoulin after the eighth stage.
The professional riders' association (CPA) on Saturday issued a statement asking all fans to wear masks.
French health authorities reported 8,550 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday, down from Friday's 8,975.
Friday's figure had set an all-time high of daily additional infections since the disease started to spread in the country at the end of the winter.
The number of people in France who have died from Covid-19 increased by 12 to 30,698, and the cumulative number of cases now totals 317,706.