By Michael Pavitt |
Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme has tested positive for coronavirus in the latest round of testing, with all riders testing negative prior to participating in the 10th stage won by Ireland’s Sam Bennett in a sprint finish.
Race organizers said Prudhomme will be quarantined for seven days after testing positive, having had his fourth test of the month.
Prudhomme was not part of the race bubble which has been aimed to prevent riders contracting coronavirus.
“Although he was not part of the ‘race bubble’ and had not been in direct contact with any of the riders and their entourage, Christian Prudhomme still decided to get tested,” an Amaury Sport Organisation statement read.
“The anti-COVID-19 protocol, which provides reinforced protection for the ‘race bubble’, distinct from others in the organisation, allows for the following plan to be put in place following such a situation.
“In the absence of Christian Prudhomme from the 10th stage from Île d’Oléron to Île de Ré up until the 16th stage from La Tour du Pin to Villard de Lans, François Lemarchand, who was in the lead car on Paris-Nice, will occupy take Christian Prudhomme’s place in the lead car.
“Jean-Michel Monin meanwhile, will replace François Lemarchand in the number three car.”
Prudhomme, who has served as the race director since 2006, typically meets officials and welcomes guests in his role.
French prime minister Jean Castex joined Prudhomme in the race car on Saturday (September 5), with Le Parisien reporting that he will undergo a test.
A total of 841 tests were conducted during the rest day and today on teams, with organisers saying no rider has tested positive or is considered a contact case requiring quarantine.
One staff member from each of Team Cofidis, AG2R La Mondiale, Ineos Grenadiers and Mitchelton-Scott have tested positive and left the race bubble, while a technical service provider also testing positive and leaving the race.
Under rules for this year’s Tour de France, a second positive test within the teams would lead to them being removed from the race.
A fourth round of testing is scheduled for the next rest day on September 14.
Today’s stage saw the riders tackle a 168-kilometre flat route from Île d’Oléron to Île de Ré.
Crosswinds led to a split in the peloton with 18km to go, with France’s Julian Alaphilippe and Spain’s Alejandro Valverde among those to fall away from the front group due to a crash.
The expected bunch sprint materialised with Denmark’s Michael Mørkøv provided a superb lead out for Deceuninck-Quickstep team mate Bennett in a headwind finish.
Bennett held off the challenge of Australia’s Caleb Ewan and Slovakia’s Peter Sagan to secure his maiden Tour de France stage win in a time of 3 hours, 35min 22sec.
The stage victory saw Bennett take the green jersey from Sagan as the battle in the points classification continues.
“I’m just in shock, I want to thank the whole team and particularly [team manager] Patrick Lefévère who gave me this opportunity to be here,” an emotional Bennett said at the finish.
“It has taken a while, but I always dreamt of winning a Tour de France stage and I couldn’t imagine what it’s like.
“I thought it wouldn’t happen.
“In the sprint, I was waiting to go because there was a head wind.
“I thought maybe I waited too late, I had a too big gear for winning, but I won.”
Slovenia’s Primož Roglič remains in the overall race lead, 21 seconds clear of defending champion Egan Bernal of Colombia.
France’s Guillaume Martin and Romain Bardet are 28 and 30 seconds off the lead respectively.
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.