All 22 teams will start the 10th stage of the Tour de France after their riders tested negative for COVID-19, organisers told Reuters on Tuesday, adding that four members of staff had returned positive tests.
French health authorities and organisers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) had said that should two members of a team, riders or staff, test positive for the novel coronavirus, the whole outfit would be excluded from the race.
But the organisers told Reuters that those testing positive were from different teams, meaning all could line up for the stage’s 1130 GMT start.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) and the organisers said in a joint statement https://twitter.com/LeTour/status/1303284798786543618 that one staff member each from French outfits Cofidis and AG2R-La Mondiale, Britain’s Team Ineos and Australia’s Mitchelton-Scott had contracted the virus.
Another positive positive test within seven days would rule the teams out of the race.
A fourth-round of testing for all teams is scheduled to take place on the next rest day in Isere on Sept. 14.
The organisers also said race director Christian Prudhomme had tested positive. French Prime Minister Jean Castex was in the Tour director’s car for part of Saturday’s stage.
All team members, riders and staff had until 1100 GMT on Monday, the Tour’s first rest day, to take a test in the mobile laboratory provided by organisers.
Four staff members of the Lotto Soudal team left the Tour two days before the start after two of them returned positive tests for COVID-19.
Riders had previously expressed concerns that spectators were not being cautious enough, with some of them running alongside the peloton while not wearing masks.
This prompted the professional riders’ association (CPA) to issue a statement asking all fans to wear masks.
Slovenian Primoz Roglic is the overall leader of the race ahead of defending champion Egan Bernal of Colombia heading into the 10th stage, a pan-flat run from Ile d’Oleron Le Chateau-d’Oleron to Ile de Re Saint-Martin-de-Re.
France has recorded nearly 31,000 deaths from the virus since the pandemic began, according to a Reuters tally.