Chris Froome tested for coronavirus as UAE Tour cancelled
Tour was cancelled due to two Italian staff members having "suspected" cases of the virus
Last Updated: 28/02/20 3:33pm
Chris Froome and sprinter Mark Cavendish are among riders being tested for the coronavirus after the UAE Tour was cancelled amid health fears on Thursday.
The final two stages were due to take place on Friday and Saturday but the race was abandoned after two staff members were taken ill, with all riders and staff confined to their rooms at the Crowne Royal Plaza Abu Dhabi Yas Island.
Statements on Thursday night from the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and organisers RCS Sport said the race had been cancelled due to two positives tests for coronavirus, but on Friday the UCI indicated the decision was made before the results were known.
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It is now understood at least one of those tests came back negative, but authorities in the United Arab Emirates took the decision to act early to prevent a possible outbreak.
Froome, who was using the race to make his long-awaited comeback from the career-threatening injuries he suffered last June, tweeted the news that he was awaiting a test for the virus.
"It's a shame that the #UAETour has been cancelled but public health must come first," the Team Ineos rider wrote.
"We are all awaiting testing and will remain at the hotel until further notice. I hope those affected make a speedy recovery and there aren't any further cases #coronavirus."
It’s a shame that the #UAETour has been cancelled but public health must come first. We are all awaiting testing and will remain at the hotel until further notice. I hope those affected make a speedy recovery and there aren’t any further cases #coronavirus— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) February 27, 2020
An official statement released by the UAE Tour on Friday confirmed that the event had been called off.
"The decision has been taken to ensure protection of all the race's participants as safety comes at the top of all priorities," the statement read.
"In the meantime, the Ministry of Health and Prevention said that all the race's participants, administrative staff and organisers will be examined through the continuous periodic screening being conducted, and all needed procedures, including quarantine measures, will be taken to ensure viral suppression and curb the spread of its outbreak in co-ordination with all health and other authorities concerned in the country.
"The ministry added that all the necessary precautions to ensure highly efficient preventive measures are being taken, including check-ups and observation of people in contact with patients, to guarantee protection of the society and its safety and preserve public trust."
UCI monitoring coronavirus situation ahead of Track Cycling World Championships
The UCI is closely monitoring the situation after a rider who began the now-cancelled UAE Tour arrived in Berlin to take part in the Track Cycling World Championships.
Danish cyclist Michael Morkov is being kept in solitary confinement at his team's hotel in Berlin after arriving from the UAE. The 34-year-old was spotted in the velodrome after arriving in Germany on Thursday, having left Abu Dhabi before the abrupt cancellation of the UAE Tour, but is now being kept away from other riders and staff members.
"The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirms that the two final stages of the UAE Tour (23-29 February), which were to be raced Friday and Saturday, were cancelled late yesterday evening after two cases of coronavirus were suspected among two staff members of one of the participating teams," the UCI's statement said.
"While waiting for the results of tests and their communication, the United Arab Emirates authorities, the event's Organising Committee and the UCI, by mutual agreement, took the decision to interrupt this event, the third race on the 2020 UCI World Tour calendar, in the interests of the health of riders and their staff, and to avoid the virus spreading."
It is understood the 34-year-old feels fine and has shown no symptoms, with his only complaint being that he is unable to visit the velodrome.
A spokesperson for the Danish team said the team still expected Morkov - who is training on a stationary bike in his room - to be able to race this weekend.
One other rider, Spaniard Alberto Torres, had been due to travel from the UAE Tour to compete in Berlin, but did not leave before the lockdown was imposed. The 29-year-old's Movistar team said Torres would only travel if given the all-clear by authorities.
British Cycling has remained in constant contact with the UCI's medical team regarding the situation but is continuing operations as normal.
The World Championships are the last major competition before the Tokyo Olympics.
So far, more than 80,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus globally. More than 2,500 have died, the majority of them in China, where the virus originated.