A mix of COVID-19, crashes, and the illnesses that find their way into every peloton sent 12 riders packing from the Giro d’Italia since the end of Sunday’s stage, after losing just four in the eight stages prior to that.
Half of the recent departures are due to COVID positives and symptoms. Former maglia rosa Remco Evenepoel, EF’s Rigoberto Urán, and perennial Italian climbing favorite Domenico Pozzovivo headline the unfortunate list, along with a raft of overnight COVID departures including Callum Scotson. GC hope Aleksandr Vlasov also exited with a non-COVID illness.
A total of nine riders have left the Giro due to COVID since it began, including Sven Erik Bystrøm, who despite testing positive was initially cleared to continue racing. He pulled out when he began presenting symptoms.
Organizers have reinstated safety protocols like masking. Teams are seeking to quarantine riders more quickly as well.
COVID isn’t the only thing causing damage. While he remains in the race, Tuesday’s stage ended the GC hopes of UAE’s Jay Vine, who crashed on a descent and lost over 11 minutes on the day. He started the day in 11th overall, less than a minute off leader Geraint Thomas.
Departures since Sunday night
Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) – COVID-19
Sven Erik Bystøm (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) – COVID-19
Simone Petilli (Intermaché-Circus-Wanty) – abandoned mid-stage 10, cause not specified
Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) – Sick, abandoned mid-stage 10
Martijn Tusveld (Team DSM) – Succumbed to injuries from a crash on stage 2
Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel-Premier Tech) – Sick, negative for COVID-19
Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) – Abandon to rest ahead of Tour de Suisse
Callum Scotson (Jayco-AlUla) – COVID-19
Domenico Pozzovivo (Israel-Premier Tech) – COVID-19
Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Deceuninck) – Suspected bacterial lung infection
Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-EasyPost) – COVID-19
Rein Taaramäe (Intermaché-Circus-Wanty) – Stomach illness
It’s not unusual to have a raft of departures following a rest day, as riders suffering ongoing injuries and ailments will often undergo a more thorough medical reckoning with team staff. COVID has increased the number this year, and any team with a positive will surely be concerned about internal spread through the second week.
Under current UCI rules, a positive COVID test doesn’t automatically mean a ticket home. Bystrøm was initially cleared by team and race doctors to continue racing, for example. But teams are clearly taking a conservative approach to any rider showing symptoms.
Evenepoel’s exit has an enormous impact, of course, and puts the Ineos duo of Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart in the driver’s seat.
With Evenepoel out, the top five all sit within 35 seconds of the lead. The Ineos duo sandwiches Primoz Roglič for the current podium, followed closely by an on-form Joao Almeida. Early pink jersey Andreas Leknessund is still hanging on 35 seconds back, but is likely to drop once the race returns to the high mountains.