Soudal-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevre defended Remco Evenepoel’s decision to drop the Giro d’Italia due to COVID-19, saying on Twitter that “it’s not a 9-5 job”.
Lefevere was responding to a comment by Wielerflits journalist Raymond Kerckhoff on the same social media channel about whether riders should abandon if they have no or few symptoms of COVID-19.
Lefevere was categorical in his answer, saying, “Yes, Raymond. You never know what’s going on under the skin.” [internally]. This is not a 9-5 job. Zero risk. “
The 23-year-old world champion was one of the favorites to win the Grand Tour, having opened his account with a dominant victory in the first stage time trial. After an eventful week, he won the Cesena time trial and took back the pink jersey but looked tired after his ride.
“I am really sorry to leave the race,” Evenpoel said in a statement released by his team late Sunday night. “As part of team protocol, I had a routine test, which unfortunately was positive.
Lefevere’s insistence that there should be no risks taken by teams when a rider tests positive was echoed in comments made by Soudal-QuickStep’s longtime physician, Yvonne Van Mol, a few months ago.
The newspaper L’Equipe quoted the team doctor as saying that the possibility that the Corona virus may have long-term effects and the lack of deep knowledge about it, given the recent emergence of the virus, means that it is better to be safe than sorry.
“We don’t know the consequences for their heart system, and our job as clinicians is to prevent riders with COVID-19 from racing,” he said.
“We don’t have enough [long-term] Perspective to ensure that it will not have an impact on their health. It’s a precautionary measure.”
Soudal-QuickStep said all of the team’s passengers and crew in Italy were tested for COVID-19 on Sunday as part of their pre-rest day routine. Evenepoel is the only part of the Soudal-QuickStep Giro that has tested positive.
Evenepoel is the latest 2023 Giro d’Italia rider to fall victim to COVID-19.
EF Education-EasyPost’s Rigoberto Uran tested positive earlier Sunday, becoming the sixth rider to leave the race. Evenboul and Uran join Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers), Nicola Consi (Alpecin-Dekonink), Giovanni Aleotti (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Clement Rosso (Arcaia-Samsec) on the list of riders forced to withdraw due to COVID-19 so far during this Giro .
Evenboll stayed overnight at the team hotel and then set off for Belgium on Monday morning by car with a mechanic. The flight to Belgium will take more than 12 hours.
Evenepoel’s COVID-19 positivity may have explained his below-par performance during Saturday’s hilly stage to Fossombrone and in the Sunday time trial to Cesena.
Remko’s parents Patrick and Agna, who were present at the race with Evenpool’s wife Omi on Sunday, were quoted as saying he noticed something wasn’t right with Evenpool during the time trial.
“If there was nothing wrong,” his father said, “he would have maintained his advantage in the time trial that he had at the first checkpoint.”
“Agna already mentioned on Saturday,” when Evenepoel had already lost some time on the final climb, “that we didn’t like the way it looked, knowing that Remco would have a hard time with it. But I’m sure he’d come back very quickly.”
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