Italy’s Filippo Ganna enjoyed time trial success at the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Tour, while yesterday’s stage winner Mathieu Van der Poel was forced to pull out after a team member tested positive for COVID-19.
Dutch rider Van der Poel got his International Cycling Union WorldTour season off to the perfect start with victory on the opening day of the UAE Tour.
But the 26-year-old was unable to start today’s individual time trial after a staff member for Alpecin-Fenix returned a positive COVID-19 test result following yesterday evening’s round of testing.
UAE Tour organiser RCS Sport confirmed Van der Poel and the rest of the Alpecin-Fenix team have gone into self-isolation and would undergo further testing this week.
"Alpecin-Fenix, in agreement with the UAE Tour organiser, have decided to withdraw its team from the race, in order to safeguard the race bubble and ensure the safe continuation of the race," the statement from RCS Sport read.
"The team was notified of one positive result of a member of its staff from the round of tests conducted on Sunday evening.
"Upon receiving the results, the person immediately went into isolation, and all those who came into contact with this person are self-isolating, in compliance with the protocol measures put in place by the race organisers and UAE health authorities.
"All team members will undertake further tests in the coming days, while they remain in isolation."
With Alpecin-Fenix out of the competition, Ganna seized his opportunity by claiming his eighth straight individual time trial victory.
Four-time individual pursuit world champion Ganna of Ineos Grenadiers completed the 13-kilometre course in 13min 46sec.
Swiss rider Stefan Bissegger of EF Education - Nippo finished 14 seconds behind Ganna with Denmark’s Mikkel Bjerg of UAE Team Emirates coming third in 14:17.00.
"I am really happy with this result, achieved in this amazing rainbow jersey," said Ganna.
"Every ITT (individual time-trial) is a different race, it is never easy.
"Some people think that because I am the world champion, ITTs are easy for me, but it’s not like this, every new race is a new test."
Slovenia’s Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar of UAE Team Emirates is the new overall leader after finishing fourth in 14:20.00.
Pogačar leads Portugal’s João Almeida by five seconds while fellow Deceuninck - Quick-Step rider Mattia Cattaneo of Italy is 18 seconds further back in third.
"I knew before the time trial that my shape is good at the moment and in the end, I did a really good time trial and I’m super happy with the result," said Pogačar.
"Having the leader’s jersey is very good for us.
"We can go into the upcoming stages with confidence."
The third edition of the seven-stage UAE Tour is scheduled to run until February 27.
Tomorrow is set to see riders compete in a 166km classic mountain stage.