BRUSSELS — Four teammates of world champion Remco Evenepoel tested positive for COVID-19 and followed the Soudal Quick-Step leader by pulling out of the three-week Giro d’Italia.
Evenepoel had won the individual time trial to reclaim the leader’s pink jersey, but his team later announced that he tested positive for COVID-19.
“Following the positive test of maglia rosa Remco Evenepoel, a further round of tests were made on the riders and staff that remained in Italy, with Jan Hirt, Josef Cerny, Louis Vervaeke and Mattia Cattaneo unfortunately unable to continue,” the Belgian team said in a statement before Stage 11.
Team doctor Toon Cruyt said that after Evenepoel tested positive two more riders started to feel unwell, but their antigen tests returned negative.
“Therefore a PCR test was carried out on the seven remaining riders, the results of which showed that the four guys were positive,” he said. “We will continue to monitor and implement our testing protocol on the three riders and staff that remain at the race.”
Other riders have also had to abandon after returning positive tests for COVID-19, including Domenico Pozzovivo and Rigoberto Urán.
Former Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas, who rides for Ineos Grenadiers, moved into the lead after pre-race favorite Evenepoel withdrew. Thomas has a two-second lead over Primož Roglič.
Stage 11 is a 136-mile route from Camaiore to Tortona, with three lower-classification climbs. The Giro ends in Rome on May 28.