Peloton Negative but Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme Tests Positive for Covid-19
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has tested positive for Covid-19 but all the riders in the peloton were negative. Prudhomme must now leave the race for a week to go into quarantine. Prudhomme, who is asymptomatic, said he had tested negative for coronavirus three times before the start of this year’s race on “the 6, 20 and 27 of August”.
His role as chief organizer means he attends a large number of social events during the race. On Saturday he accompanied French Prime Minister Jean Castex when the premier visited the race.
“I leave the Tour now for a week, I’m going to do what any French employee would in this kind of case,” he confirmed to reporters.
“I’ll be watching the Tour on television, something I haven’t done for 15 years,” added Prudhomme who has been in charge of the Tour since 2007.
His role as chief organiser means he attends numerous Tour-related social events, and on Saturday he shared his car with French Prime Minister Jean Castex who visited the eighth stage in the Pyrenees. Following news of Prudhomme’s positive test it was announced that Castex himself would undergo a precautionary test. The prime minister’s office said he and Prudhomme had worn masks “and respected social distancing” measures.
Prudhomme said he was not surprised that the peloton was free from coronavirus, saying “the riders live like monks or soldiers, which is not thecase with me”.
Infections in four teams
He hands over temporary responsibility of the sport’s crown jewels to former rider Francois Lemarchand, who is director of the Paris-Nice stage race. While all the riders got the green light to continue, four staff member from four different teams — Team Ineos of reigning champion Egan Bernal, Cofidis, AG2R and Mitchelton-Scott — tested positive and had to leave the Tour’s bio-secure bubble. This means those teams face expulsion should they have a second case exhibiting symptoms in the next week.
During Saturday’s visit Castex had stressed the importance of the Tour being staged despite much of France being on red alert with coronavirus infections rising.
“Living with the virus is the doctrine of the Tour and the government, but everyone must protect themselves and obey the rules so that the Tour can take place,” said Castex.
“What I have seen today in the Pyrenees pleased me.”
The Tour, which normally takes place in July, was moved till later in the year to allow it to take place.
Under the strict coronavirus protocol in place any team that returned two or more positive PCR tests, be they riders, managers, doctors, masseurs or mechanics, risk expulsion. The test results were announced ahead of Tuesday’s spectacular run between the two Atlantic Islands of Oleron and Re, both of which are now connected to the French mainland by road bridges.
RBA/AFP Photos: Bettini