The cycling weekend, upset by the heat wave and casualties due to covid

The cycling weekend, upset by the heat wave and casualties due to covid
The Slovakian Peter Sagan, of TotalEnergies, in the Tour of Switzerland.
The Slovakian Peter Sagan, of TotalEnergies, in the Tour of Switzerland.GIAN EHRENZELLER (EFE)

There are just two weeks to go before the start of the Tour de France. Fine tuning races are over. The Tour of Switzerland, Slovenia, Belgium, the Occitania Route. The tests in which the Tour teams take the opportunity to decide on strategies, candidates, measure fitness, fine-tune preparation… All are meticulously outlined plans to which two waves, two waves, the African heat that shakes southern Europe, and that of covid, which does not stop, have upset.

There have been so many cases of covid in Switzerland on Thursday night, in Ticino, that today Friday, after complete teams, UAE, Bahrain and Alpecin, have decided not to start in the sixth stage of the Tour of Switzerland by having several infected among its runners. On Thursday he had left the Jumbo. And between Friday and Thursday, another dozen runners: four from EF, two from Bora, including race leader Alexander Vlasov; two from Ineos, Pidcock and Adam Yates, two from Israel, Aranburu, Brambilla, Vervaeke… Of the 154 who started last Sunday, over the five stages disputed 60 riders have abandoned, almost 40 percent. In the Tour of Slovenia, the pandemic has brushed past Tadej Pogacar, the winner of the last two Tours and a great favorite for the next one. On Friday, two of his colleagues in the UAE, Mikkel Bjerg, positive, and, as a precaution, his roommate, Stake Laengen, did not take the exit. “But Pogacar is fine, no problem,” they warn from his team.

The different waves of covid, and similar virus epidemics that have plagued the peloton since spring, have disrupted the plans of the teams, who have had to expand the list of pre-candidates for the Tour and will not define their eight until next week. The fear is both that a positive near the Tour prevents the participation of some gregarious or even of the figures, or that the consequences of a positive these days reduce the performance in the French race of the affected cyclists. The Jumbos of Roglic, Vingegaard and Van Aert, concentrated in Tignes since Monday, seem to be safe from contagion, as well as the Movistars of Enric Mas, in Andorra, but the most powerful of Ineos and the UAE are on the roads these days.

Those who do not get the covid these days will, however, take advantage of the high temperatures to acclimatize to the heat wave that is expected in France in July, after a cool start to the Tour in Copenhagen, with less than 20 degrees, clouds and even some downpour That says he is doing Pogacar in his Slovenia, where temperatures have risen above 30 degrees, something never seen before, and cyclists put ice packs on their necks, and wait for the start with vests and ice socks. On the Occitania Route, in the south of France, however, rather than acclimatise the cyclists, with Valverde, Carlos Rodríguez and Sivakov at the forefront, are struggling to survive conditions that have forced the prefects of two Pyrenean departments to ban From Friday to Sunday outdoor sports activities are hazardous to health. This has forced the suspension of the planned popular marches, the Quebrantahuesos, which crosses the Pyrenees from Aragón and returns, and the Luchón-Bayona, 320 kilometers through the giants of the Pyrenees, Tourmalet, Aubisque, Peyresourde, Aspin… The stage of the virenes de Occitania has had to be cut down to just 34 kilometres.

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