Danish rider remains confined to hotel room at Worlds amid coronavirus fears

By Ian Parker, PA, Berlin
PA Media: Sport

Danish cyclist Michael Morkov remained in solitary confinement at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships on Friday evening as further updates were awaited on tests for the coronavirus at the cancelled UAE Tour.

Morkov arrived in Berlin on Thursday to race in Sunday’s Madison at the World Championships, having contested the first four stages of the UAE Tour before its cancellation.

Statements from the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and organisers RCS Sport had said the UAE race had been aborted due to two positives tests among staff members, but on Friday cycling’s world governing body revealed the decision was made before the results were known as authorities acted to prevent a potential outbreak.

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It is understood one of those test results came back negative, but the outcome of the other remains unknown.

All riders, staff and media who were on the UAE Tour – including four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome and star sprinter Mark Cavendish – have been on lockdown for 24 hours as they underwent tests for the virus.

The situation remained unchanged on Friday evening, with Morkov confined to his Berlin hotel room until more was known about the situation in the UAE.

A UCI statement said: “The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and the Organising Committee of the 2020 UCI Track Cycling World Championships presented by Tissot have been closely monitoring the situation in Abu Dhabi and its potential impact on the Championships held in Berlin, since the cancellation of the UAE Tour.

“A rider who participated in the UAE Tour and who is currently in Berlin was kept in his hotel room as a preventive measure.

“We are awaiting the results of diagnostic tests carried out in Abu Dhabi in order to decide on the follow-up to the preventive measures implemented to date in Berlin in the framework of the Championships. Further information will be provided as soon as possible.”

Morkov visited the velodrome on Thursday, before news of the UAE Tour’s cancellation broke, and was seen celebrating with his team-mates as the Danish team pursuit squad broke the world record in taking gold.

It is understood the 34-year-old feels fine and has shown no symptoms, with his only complaint being that he is unable to visit the velodrome to prepare for Sunday’s race.

A spokesperson for the Danish team said they still expect Morkov – who is training on a stationary bike in his room – to be able to race this weekend.

“He is fine. He is in good spirits,” the spokesperson said. “He is tired of the situation but he is in the hotel voluntarily…

“Right now we think he will race Sunday. Of course this is not the best way to go into the Worlds. But he has been a pro for so many years, he can deal with this as well. I am sure he will be ready to race on Sunday.”

One other rider, Spaniard Alberto Torres, had been due to travel from the UAE Tour to compete in Berlin, but did not leave before the lockdown was imposed.

The 29-year-old’s Movistar team said Torres would only travel if given the all-clear by authorities.

British Cycling has remained in constant contact with the UCI’s medical team regarding the situation but is continuing operations as normal.

The World Championships are the last major competition before the Tokyo Olympics.

The lockdown remains in place in Abu Dhabi, where Team Ineos’ Froome and Bahrain-McLaren’s Cavendish were among six Britons taking part in the WorldTour race.

Mitchelton-Scott’s Adam Yates has now been declared the overall winner, having been in the leader’s red jersey after the fifth stage.

Six-time British time trial champion Alex Dowsett (Israel Start-Up Nation), James Knox (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Trek-Segafredo’s Charlie Quarterman were also racing, as well as Irishmen Eddie Dunbar (Team Ineos) and Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep).

A tweet from Dowsett’s Israel-Start Up Nation team on Friday morning said the results from the tests were expected on Saturday.

“The virus tests results of all teams will arrive in 24 Hours,” the tweet said. “Implication: leave? Stay for two weeks locked in? No chance for future decision before tomorrow. #UAETour”

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