The UCI World Tour Enters it’s Third Season Under the Pandemic
Even with countries entering their third stage of Covid-19 vaccinations, the rapid spread of the reportedly more infectious mutation of Omicron means cases have soared, and fresh concerns about large-scale events have reappeared.
Season openers in Australia and Argentina have already been cancelled due to uncertainty surrounding the severity of Omicron, meaning many riders will be eyeing the Grand Prix Cycliste de Marseille La Marseillaise on January 30th, as well as the Etoile de Bessèges between February 2nd and 6th in which Greg van Avermaet in expected to get his season underway.
However, a new law passed by the French government this week means athletes are now obliged to have proof of full vaccination upon entering the country if they are to compete at any given event, casting doubt of a small minority of team coaches and riders who are yet to protect themselves from the disease. This is also true of races in the Middle East such as the Tour of Oman and the Saudi Tour.
As Cycling News report, a confidential survey carried out by the UCI before the WorldTour seminar last December indicates that 75 per cent of teams had more than 80 per cent of vaccinated riders and staff. Although, there was inconsistency across the data, with teams’ vaccination fulfilment ranging from 40 percent to 100 percent.
However, The UCI have backed the reintroduction of non-pharmaceutical measures, namely wearing masks, requiring PCR tests and sanitising facilities, while the federation will also introduce a ‘UCI Health Pass’ in the hope of convincing teams with lower vaccination rates to ensure everyone is sufficiently protected. This would be obtained through a full course of vaccination.
There is also the possibility be granted a health pass with proof of a negative PCR test within 48 hours of attendance at a race. As for Grand Tours, negative test results must be presented before arrival regardless of vaccination status.