Soudal-QuickStep top doctor Yvan Vanmol is angry about the COVID-19 protocols at the 2023 Giro d’Italia His star rider, Remco Evenepoel, tested positive, quitting the race while leading on Sunday. Earlier that day, he won the Stage 9 time trial by one second over Geraint Thomas. During a routine test before the first rest day, he tested positive. On Tuesday, the Ineos Grenadiers wore the pink jersey given the Belgian’s withdrawal.
“Remco is very unhappy. You make so many sacrifices, but due to negligence and lack of professionalism on the part of the organization, you have to leave the Giro as a leader,” Vanmol told Sporza. “When you see what happened in the first few days, a press conference in a small room, full of people: that’s not possible. Yes, this ticked me off.”
Apparently, some were calling for better protocols to protect the riders, but that didn’t happen. Although the head physician isn’t at the race, he believed that others should have done better.
“There were already requests for the organization to do the press conferences via video call, for example, but that was apparently impossible,” he added. “I am not saying that the infections of Remco and Ganna could have been avoided, but the chance should have been greatly reduced.”
The doctor said that if other organizers don’t take these factors into account, it will just continue to happen.
“These problems will also occur in the Tour and the Vuelta. There must be clear protocols. Not that it should be as strict as it was a few years ago, but people should sit around the table, including with the team doctors.”
“Physically, Remco is okay to such an extent that he has no more than a serious cold. But that is more than enough to keep someone off course,” he explained. “But he’s also the only one who’s had so many unprotected contacts with other people. Now we have to wait and see if there will not be other positive cases within the team. If Remco has infected other people, those infections will take a few days.”
When asked about criticisms that his team had been overcautious, he defended the squad’s approach for risk mitigation. “We just acted medically correctly. It’s been our policy all season to test for the slightest symptoms,” he concluded. “The risks after infection are still too great to go lightly on it. We cannot say that Remco did not suffer from the disease. Remco’s values were clearly lower than the previous days. We must not minimize this. Moreover, he can also infect other colleagues.”