As the first week of competition ends at the Vuelta a España there have already been a large number of casualties due to Covid-19. There have been more than expected and, moreover, important names in their respective teams. So far, up to 13 riders have had to abandon the Spanish Grand Tour due to Covid positives.
For this reason there is a growing nervousness within the Vuelta. On Sunday, August 28, three more victims of the virus were added to the list: Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious), Pieter Serry (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), and Sepp Kuss, Primož Roglič's main mountain domestique at Jumbo Visma. Given the importance of the names, there is much concern that the virus, which for many seemed almost forgotten, could be definitive in deciding the race or even affecting the whole event.
Belgian rider Serry tested positive on the morning of the ninth stage by the team doctor. Meanwhile, Bahrain's Poels followed suit with a positive test with mild symptoms, although the rest of the team tested negative, while Sepp Kuss had to go home early due to fever. The pandemic continues to stalk the world and also the cycling peloton.
That is also why the precautions and the Covid protocols implemented by the race are being taken to the extreme right now, not only by the organisation, which is constantly reminding all the staff to wear their masks correctly, but also by the teams. Each and every one of the riders now more than ever go to the mixed zone every morning to talk to journalists wearing their masks, and if there is anyone who, for whatever reason, forgets to do so, they get a slap on the wrist.
Some, such as Burgos BH, one of the teams that is suffering most from the consequences of the virus - before the first stage, their leader Ángel Madrazo had to be replaced by Victor Langellotti - carried out a series of tests yesterday more out of suspicion than precaution. In fact, their rider Jesús Ezquerra said: "Yesterday we did an internal control, because some of us felt a bit sick but I think it was after the cold descent because we tested negative, I hope that Covid doesn't give us any more scares".
He continued: "We are trying to take good care of it, we are taking all the precautions we can, although it is true that today we are all going to get on a plane for the transfer".
During the rest day and it will be time for a new massive sifting through the tests, so the news on Tuesday morning could be devastating for the Vuelta if there are more riders who continue to add to the list of casualties.