The international cycling season concluded with the Vuelta a España - which the UCI has hailed as a success, despite the problems caused by coronavirus ©Getty Images

International Cycling Union (UCI) medical director Xavier Bigard has claimed the organisation's COVID-19 race protocol proved to be effective after just 63 cases of coronavirus were recorded following the resumption of the season in August.

Figures published by the UCI show only 29 riders tested positive for COVID-19 between August and the conclusion of the WorldTour season at the weekend.

The UCI said it had held 29 women's and 94 men's events under its health protocol during the August-November period, including the Road World Championships in Imola and the Mountain Bike World Championships in Leogang.

Cycling's worldwide governing body revealed 18,650 PCR tests were carried out on riders and team staff members across the events and returned just 63 positives, a prevalence rate of 0.30 per cent.

The coronavirus pandemic severely disrupted sport, including the UCI WorldTour and Women's WorldTour.

The Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España - the three annual Grand Tours - were all postponed because of COVID-19 and took place under the series of coronavirus countermeasures put in place by the UCI.

The UCI created a "race bubble", made up of riders and team staff and who had to remain isolated and protected from others at the race, to ensure its events could be held safely.

The Tour de France was held under the series of COVID-19 protocols implemented by the UCI ©Getty Images
The Tour de France was held under the series of COVID-19 protocols implemented by the UCI ©Getty Images

Pre-competition tests were made obligatory, as well as follow-up tests on the rest days of the three Grand Tours.

"The health protocol was a key element for the resumption of the UCI international calendar, especially for road cycling," said Bigard. 

"Its principle [race bubble)] and the tests carried out [by the polymerase chain reaction method] have proven their worth. 

"Riders, teams and organisers should be commended for their conscientiousness and their commitment. 

"From August until November they respected extremely strict measures without which it would not have been possible to obtain the agreement of the competent authorities to organise cycling competitions in the current world health situation. 

"I pay tribute to the spirit of unity and responsibility of all which, from the drafting of the protocol to its implementation, enabled our sport to exist despite the pandemic."