Cofidis general manager Cédric Vasseur sounded the alarm after UAE, Bahrain-Victory and Alpensin-Phoenix teams pulled out of the Tour de France due to several positive cases of Covid-19 and assured some teams would be released on health concerns Agreement pressure.
What was your reaction after a day of carnage at the start of the Tour of Switzerland?
This is amazing. Having so many active riders on the roads of the Tour de Suisse also shows that having team staff can also be active and can pollute. And we know very well that, unfortunately, exposure to the new coronavirus today can lead to weeks or even three weeks of positive PCR tests. So the rider who is positive today, I’m taking Vlasov as an example, probably in two weeks, when he has to submit a negative PCR test to UCI in less than 72 or 48 hours, he’s positive when he’s not even anymore When symptomatic. But according to the rules, if you test positive, you can’t play on the tour. That’s the real worry.
Is the Tour de France dangerous?
From now on, all those in contact with Covid are at potential risk and will be excluded from the start of the Tour de France. Of course, I think the safest place for us today is a bike race. We know all the people who start, so the riders and all the staff who accompany them are negative. So it’s still a very important first filter. After that, of course, we have contact with people in the hotel, we have contact with people in the arrivals area in the departure area. And, nothing can be done. Otherwise you have to live in a bubble. Because today I quit the Tour de France by saying it was to protect my riders from the negatives, so this is not a solution. The runner goes home, the wife has met positive people at work, and it is enough for him to catch her. There are many runners and children who are still in school. And these children, they can pass it on to their parents. The really bad news in all of this is simply the return of positive cases that have been seen in the normal population. Inevitably, it will have an impact on the bike brigade.
What do you think should be done?
From the moment we were all vaccinated, we are now better equipped to fight severe cases. But the first measure is testing. And a lot of teams have released the pressure this season because it’s expensive because they say it’s not needed anymore. We’re vaccinated so we don’t need to be tested to race. Today, the team’s only obligation is to conduct PCR tests while participating in the UCI World Tour for more than 7 days. This means you can start a classic Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Paris-Roubaix or Milan-Sanremo without testing, and of course, some teams have already done it. So I think it’s a safety measure if the first filter is done before getting to the race location. Because if we have a large number of positive cases in the peloton, it must mean that the new coronavirus came from the peloton.
Like society, does the cycling industry think the epidemic is over?
I don’t think we should blame the organizers, the UCI or anyone else. We see everyone around us a little bit more vigilant with masks, with testing, with barrier gestures. In our case, we have to try putting in a few more filters. Because if we had 35 active riders on the first day of the Tour de France break in Morzine, it would be a disaster. Today, we can have a guy in a yellow jersey in Morzine, his round stopped. There I let you imagine the explosion because it’s the Tour de France and a sounding board far superior to the Tour de France.
Does the ASO need to tighten the screws?
I think the current health of the Tour de France will force the Tour de France organiser ASO to possibly review its copy and possibly be more vigilant. Now, maybe just the obligation to wear a mask will suffice. Position yourself by the experts.
Will your team still be more vigilant?
We have a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, and I think we can move forward with it. We’ll see the state of the situation. Currently, we are still on three fronts, Belgium, Ositania and Switzerland. At the moment I’m knocking on wood, but we can’t say to ourselves that we’re here, we’re testing, so we’re never going to be positive. If just not testing positive is enough, it will be known and we will be obligated. For the benefit of the runners, it is necessary to try to put in place fairly strict and stringent measures to limit the risk of contamination as much as possible to the week of the Tour de France. You can’t tell a runner to stop sleeping with your wife and go to a hotel to sleep.
But we can still advise runners to test themselves on everyone around them. If someone really asks him to wear a mask to avoid contamination. Our medical department will make the decision. I’ll meet with them and we’ll see what strategies we have.