Remco Evenepoel is out of the 2023 Giro d’Italia after returning a positive test for COVID-19.
Announced following the road world champion’s victory in the stage 9 time trial, which also saw him take the pink jersey, the race lead will now fall to Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), who finished a close second in the time trial.
Evenepoel’s Soudal Quick-Step team announced the Belgian’s departure from the race on Sunday night “after a routine test taken ahead of the first rest day came back positive to Covid-19”.
“I am really sorry to be leaving the race,” the 23-year-old said in a statement. “As part of the team’s protocol, I took a routine test, which unfortunately was positive. My experience here has been really special and I was looking forward to competing over the next two weeks.
“I can’t thank enough the staff and the riders who sacrificed so much in preparation for the Giro. I will be cheering them on over the next two weeks”, said Remco, who will travel home on Monday by car.
The team has said that all of their other riders and staff have been tested and all returned negative results.
EF Education-EasyPost’s Rigoberto Urán also withdrew from the race on Sunday night following a COVID-19 positive.
Thomas now leads the general classification by two seconds over Jumbo-Visma’s Primož Roglič ahead of Monday’s first rest day, while Thomas’ teammate Tao Geoghegan Hart only sits five seconds back, and UAE Team Emirates’ João Almeida is fourth, 22 seconds in arrears.