Professional cycling registers first Covid-19 case

Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria of UAE Team Emirates tests positive for virus

Fernando Gaviria of Colombia and UAE Team Emirates competed in the UAE Tour at the end of February. Photograph: Getty

International pro-cycling has its first big case of Covid-19, with the Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria confirming that he tested positive for the virus. Gaviria competed in the UAE Tour at the end of February, taking second on stage four, but the race was then called off with two days remaining after reports that two staff members on his team had the virus.

The entire peloton, team staff, race officials and media were confined to their hotel rooms, but most were able to leave for the airport after a couple of days. However, Gaviria’s team plus three others were required to remain in quarantine. On Thursday Gaviria commented on rumours surrounding him, saying he had indeed tested positive for the virus.

“I’m feeling fine,” he said. “Thank you to my team and to everyone at the hospital who looked after me to perfection. I’m here to avoid infecting other people, and to avoid this continuing to spread in the way it currently is. This [his update] is to assure everyone that everything is going well and let’s hope it’s all resolved soon.”

The virus has led to the cancellation several high-profile events, including Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo in Italy, in addition to races in France and China. Paris-Nice, which is making its way to the south of France, continues but organisers have limited public attendance at the start and finish of stages.


Ireland's Sam Bennett had been part of the Paris-Nice event but crashed at the end of Tuesday's stage and was unable to start on Wednesday. Ryan Mullen (Trek-Segafredo) continues in the event.

In terms of the bigger picture, race cancellations in Italy and France plus the evolving coronavirus situation has led to questions about whether or not the sport's biggest events will go ahead. The Giro d'Italia in May looks likely to be under threat, while any escalation of the situation in France will raise concerns about the Tour de France. The event has only ever been derailed by world wars in the past.

Cancelling events

Meanwhile, at home a number of Cycling Ireland’s clubs have cancelled events which were due to take place in the near future.

Clonard RC has called off the Rás Naomh Finian set to be held on Saturday, while the Newbridge Cycling Club has cancelled the Newbridge GP scheduled for Sunday. Also off is BCC Camlough’s CCC Spring 60 plus two fixtures originally set for St Patrick’s Day. North Pole CC has scrapped its events for that day, while Panduit Carrick Wheelers has abandoned plans for the Bobby Power Memorial Race and the Landy Cup.

It seems likely more events could follow suit in the near future, but that remains to be confirmed. Cycling Irelandhas said it will publish updates on its web page.

In better news, the federation confirmed this week that Ireland has qualified its largest-ever team at the Olympics. As expected, strong showings in the recent world track championships have led to riders securing slots in the Madison and Omnium events for men and women. Ireland will also have three athletes in the men’s road race and one in the men’s time trial.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling