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UCI makes big changes to COVID-19 policy days before Tour de France

Theinternational cycling body, the UCI

On Tuesday, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has published on its website an updated version of their rules concerning COVID-19 protocol. In a statement, the cycling body posted that the health protocol was drawn up by a steering group under the responsibility of the UCI Medical Director, Professor Xavier Bigard, and composed of representatives of riders, teams, team doctors and organisers. It has been regularly updated in line with developments since it was first introduced in 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tim Declercq out of TdF due to COVID-19

The changes most likley follow on the heels of mass withdrawals at the recent Tour de Suisse, where 29 riders were forced to quit following an outbreak.

Among the main new provisions of the protocol, some are mandatory and others are strongly recommended.

Updated protocols 

The mandatory measures are as follows:

– two days before the start of the race, presentation of at least one negative antigen test for all members of the teams (riders and staff);
– on the rest days of the event (with the exception of any transfer days), a Covid-19 antigen test for all team members (riders and staff), as well as for Commissaires (International and National), UCI Technical Delegates and anti-doping control personnel.

Comittee decision

In the event a case of COVID-19 within a team is confirmed by an antigen test then by a PCR test (whether a rider or a member of staff), the decision to potentially isolate the case shall be taken collectively by the team doctor concerned, the COVID-19 doctor for the event and the UCI Medical Director, on the basis of the clinical elements available.

The UCI has also posted strongly-recommended measures, which are as follows:

– during the five days preceding the race, daily antigen tests for all team members (riders and staff) in order to verify nobody is carrying the virus, which is essential for the constitution of the team bubble and the peloton bubble;
– during the race, if possible daily but at least every two to three days, antigen tests for team members (except riders), Commissaires (International and National), UCI Technical Delegates and anti-doping control personnel.
Moreover, the rule that authorised the organiser to withdraw from the race any team that had two or more riders returning positive COVID-19 PCR tests within seven days is dropped.