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Van der Poel's Alpecin-Fenix withdraw from UAE Tour due to Covid positive

Will Strickson
22 Feb 2021

Despite leading the race, a staff member's positive Covid-19 test leads to entire team withdrawing to ensure race can continue safely

Alpecin-Fenix have withdrawn from the UAE Tour after a member of staff tested positive for Covid-19.

The team, which also includes British rider Ben Tulett, will not take part in today's time-trial and Mathieu van der Poel's leader's jersey will pass to David Dekker of Jumbo-Visma, who came second to Van der Poel in Sunday's crosswind-dominated opening stage.

An official statement from the team released this morning said there had been one positive result from tests conducted on Sunday evening and they had agreed with race organisers to withdraw the entire team 'to safeguard the race bubble and ensure the safe continuation of the race'.

The statement goes on to state: 'Upon receiving the results, the person immediately went into isolation, and all those who came into contact with this person are self-isolating, in compliance with the protocol measures put in place by the race organisers and UAE Health Authorities. All team members will undertake further tests in the coming days, while they remain in isolation.'

It's not clear whether any riders are self-isolating or if this frees up Van der Poel to ride in the opening weekend of the Spring Classics with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne on the 27th and 28th February respectively.

Van der Poel's initial schedule has him next appearing in either Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico, however if Covid restrictions and team plans allow him to make the trip to Belgium he'd immediately be the favourite, especially after his stage victory in UAE.