February 22, 2021
We have awoken to the news this morning that Mathieu van der Poel and his Alpecin-Fenix team have been removed from the UAE Tour, following an Alpecin-Fenix staff member testing positive for COVID-19. Here's what we know so far:
No. There is no indication that Mathieu van der Poel has tested positive, nor is he exhibiting symptoms. A staff member (not an athlete) tested positive, and Alpecin-Fenix riders and staff who had come in contact with that staffer are being isolated out of caution.
In fact, van der Poel's dominant victory in stage 1 of the UAE Tour suggests he is incredible shape - he did much of the work driving the breakaway for most of the day, and then won the field sprint from a reduced group.
Strade Bianche, the much-anticipated "gravel classic" looming on March 6, 2021 appears to be in doubt. Mathieu van der Poel was targeting Strade Bianche, as well as Spring classics like Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the weeks following.
It's not clear what this means for his training or travel plans yet, but if he was restricted from travel for two weeks, a Strade Bianche start could be in jeopardy.
Last year, COVID-19 struck during the UAE Tour, eventually forcing some teams into hotel "lockdowns" before the entire race was cancelled part way through.
The UCI also recently announced a large number of 2021 races that have been postponed or cancelled outright due to the ongoing pandemic; as a precautionary measure, unrelated to this recent news from the UAE Tour.
Let's hope that the early isolation of Alpecin-Fenix prevents a repeat of last year's spread and hope for good health for everyone involved.
February 24, 2021
February 22, 2021
February 19, 2021
For most fans, tomorrow is the last televised (streaming) race of the cyclocross season. Waaslandcross, from Sint-Niklaas is the final race in the Ethias Cross season-long series.