POGACAR, UAE EMIRATES OUT OF LA FLECHE WALLONNE DUE TO COVID CONCERNS
Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar’s Team UAE Emirates withdrew from La Fleche Wallonne just hours before the classic started due to Covid-19 cases. Pogacar was scheduled to compete alongside last year’s Fleche Wallonne winner Marc Hirschi.
“We regret to inform that UAE Team Emirates will not participate in Fleche Wallonne due to 2 members returning positive tests for Covid-19 on April 20,” the outfit said in a statement.
“The two members of the team concerned, Diego Ulissi and one staff member (who is also vaccinated), returned two negative tests in the days before travelling to Belgium.
“Upon arrival to Belgium both underwent a subsequent test which returned a positive result,” they added.
However Pogacar posted on Twitter the results were simply false positives.
The UAE Team released a statment with similar claims
“Upon arrival to Belgium both underwent a subsequent test which returned a positive result.
“Since the original ‘positive’ test, both members have undergone 3 separate tests each: 2 antigen and 1 molecular. All the results from these subsequent tests returned negative results and neither displays any symptoms.
“Though the team is frustrated by the ruling, we fully accept the final decision of the Belgian authorities.”
UAE Emirates said they aim to participate in Sunday’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege, another key early season race.
Belgian Wout van Aert won the first Ardennes classic of the season, the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, but has been omitted from Jumbo Visma’s lineup for La Fleche Wallonne.
Van Aert’s teammate Primoz Roglic and world champion Julian Alaphilippe are among the contenders in the 120-mile race.
We all have negative and we don’t start Flèche Wallone.
We had false positive yesterday but came three times negative afterwards.
— Tadej Pogačar (@TamauPogi) April 21, 2021
RBA/AFP Photos: Bettini