Last Updated: 27/08/20 8:23am
Rules that would see teams sent home from the Tour de France should two of
their riders or staff test positive for coronavirus during the race could be
amended before Saturday’s opening stage.
Organisers ASO issued strict protocols to teams earlier this week, with riders and staff entering ‘bubbles’ from Wednesday and needing to undergo regular testing during the week.
But with growing concerns over ‘false positives’, teams were unhappy with the stipulation that two positive tests within seven days would see a team withdrawn from the race – regardless of which individuals were involved.
Following further talks on Wednesday, Mitchelton-Scott sports director Matt White indicated the rules could yet change.
“We’re going through that process now with the ASO and the final decision could be modified before the start of the race,” White said.
“Right now it’s two positives and you go home but that could be modified by the time we even start. I know there have been some emails going back and forth today.”
Earlier this week, Bora-Hansgrohe withdrew their entire team from the Bretagne Classic after a rider tested positive, but the team later announced a second test showed it was thought to be a false positive.
That prompted team manager Ralph Denk to criticise the UCI’s testing protocols which will be in use at the Tour.
Ineos Grenadiers team principal Sir Dave Brailsford said common sense must be at the forefront of any decisions made as he called for flexibility in the way any rules are enforced.
“You’ve got to set out a certain stance to start with,” Brailsford told the PA news agency. “There’s the rules, and there’s the practical application and interpretation of those rules. For me it’s not about black and white rules, it’s about the interpretation of the rules and what we are trying to achieve, which is a safe race.”
Brailsford indicated that would include taking into account the role of the individual who had tested positive.
“If somebody has not had much contact with the team or very, very minimal contact with the riders, if they were very much at the periphery, that would be different to someone at the core,” he said.
“You’ve got to think it through properly and I think that’s what they’re doing and I’m very supportive of it. You’ve got to take a pragmatic and reasonable approach to this, and a one-size-fits-all blanket rule isn’t going to apply to every situation.”