Mitchelton-Scott has withdrawn its entire team from the Giro d’Italia after four staff members returned positive Covid-19 results from rest-day tests.
Steven Kruijswijk, leader of the Jumbo-Visma team, and Sunweb’s Michael Matthews also tested positive, forcing Dutchman Kruijswijk out of the race and Australia’s Matthews off the start-line for Tuesday’s stage 10.
Mitchelton-Scott’s British rider Simon Yates – a general classification contender – had already tested positive for the coronavirus and pulled out of the race before Saturday’s stage eight.
“Unfortunately we received the news on Monday evening that we have returned a number of positive Covid-19 results to members of our staff after our third round of tests in three days,” said Mitchelton-Scott’s general manager Brent Copeland. “As a social responsibility to our riders and staff, the peloton and the race organisation we have made the clear decision to withdraw from the Giro d’Italia.”
Mitchelton-Scott had returned two negative rounds of tests on Friday and Saturday before being notified of the positives from testing on Sunday. The team, which had held aspirations of securing the pink jersey through Yates, withdrew immediately.
“Thankfully those impacted remain asymptomatic or with mild symptoms,” Copeland said. “But as an organisation the health of all of our riders and staff is our main priority and we are now focused on safely transporting them to areas where they are most comfortable to conduct a period of quarantine. We wish the [race organisers] RCS and the rest of the peloton a successful finish to this year’s edition of the Giro d’Italia and we look forward to returning in 2021.”
Neither Kruijswijk nor Matthews displayed symptoms and, with teammates and staffers having returned negative tests, both Jumbo-Visma and Sunweb are set to continue the race.
Given the strict biosecurity measures teams and riders are subjected to, Kruijswijk said the news came as a surprise. “Within the team we take a lot of measures to avoid contamination,” he said. “And I just feel fit. I can’t believe I got it. It is a very big disappointment to get this news. It is a pity that I have to leave the Giro this way.”
Two more staff members – one from AG2R-La Mondiale and one from Ineos Grenadiers – have also reportedly tested positive.