Remaining 166 Tour riders cleared of virus but not director

The 166 remaining Tour de France riders have been cleared to continue racing ahead of Tuesday’s Stage 10 after undergoing COVID-19 tests

The 166 remaining Tour de France riders have been cleared to continue racing ahead of Tuesday’s Stage 10 after undergoing COVID-19 tests.

Organizers of the Tour performed some 650 tests over the past two days on riders and team members, with most of the riders tested during the first rest day on Monday.

Two persons with direct knowledge of the results told The Associated Press that all the riders’ tests returned negative. The persons were not authorized to speak publicly because the results had yet to be announced.

Organizers however announced that race director Christian Prudhomme tested positive, without providing further details.

Under the race’s health protocols, anyone who tests positive has to leave the race and any team with more than two positive tests — either rider or staff — within seven days also has to abandon.

Under threat of cancellation at some point — more than 30,000 people in France have died after contracting the coronavirus — the Tour has been salvaged by pushing it back from its traditional July date to the end of the summer. The price paid for the race to be run are strict health protocols which include mandatory testing for riders and team staff on rest days.

All were tested before the Tour started in Nice and have since lived in the race bubble, making sure they stayed away from fans and sponsors usually omnipresent during the race’s three weeks.

After four staff of the Belgian team Lotto-Soudal were sent home following abnormal coronavirus tests on the eve of the Tour, the race has been run without any further COVID-19-related incidents.

To avoid false positive results that could rule healthy riders out of contention, Tour organizers perform a retest and a blood analysis as quickly as possible in case of a positive test. They have set up a mobile coronavirus lab that can produce results in two hours.

Following Sunday’s final stage in the Pyrenees, where Primoz Roglic of Slovenia seized the race leader’s yellow jersey, the 22 Tour teams have traveled by bus to the western Charente region. The race resumes Tuesday with a flat stage linking two islands, the Ile d’Oleron and the Ile de Re.

Roglic leads defending champion Egan Bernal by 21 seconds with Frenchman Guillaume Martin in third place, 28 seconds off the pace.

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