Top American cyclist Tejay Van Garderen will not compete at the Rio Olympics even if selected due to fears over the Zika virus. Van Garderen’s wife Jessica is pregnant and the BMC rider, who is likely to
be his team’s leader at next month’s Tour de France, does not want to take any risks.
Zika is linked to birth defects in babies and is transferred by mosquitoes.
“If Jessica were not pregnant right now, assuming I was selected, I would go,” Van Garderen said, “But the fact is, she is pregnant. If we were just going to start trying, I’d say we could start trying six months after the Olympics. But when she has a baby in her belly, I don’t want to take any chances.”
Zika can also be sexually transmitted, particularly from an infected man to a woman. The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that people who visit Zika-hit areas — such as Olympic host city Rio — should practise either safe sex or abstain from sex for eight weeks after returning home to prevent
themselves from inadvertently passing on the virus.
Van Garderen was not guaranteed to be selected by the US Olympic team, although he is a strong time-trialler, one of the Olympic disciplines.