An e-bike event that runs alongside the Giro d'Italia has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with a total of 17 police officers testing positive for COVID-19.
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The officers were marshalling the event, and were tested in Abruzzo where the Giro d'Italia pro race had stopped for a rest day. All are reportedly asymptomatic and have been placed in isolation, with the organisers of both events RCS Sport claiming that the officers were specifically tasked with covering the Giro-E, which finishes an hour before the main Giro each day.
A spokesperson commented: "With reference to the stories that appeared in the press relating to the Coronavirus status of Polizia Stradale officers at the Giro d'Italia, it must be highlighted that the reported cases only concern personnel exclusively engaged in the escort at the Giro-E, an event with organization, logistics, hotels, timetables and starting locations completely separate from those of the Giro d’Italia.
"It was found that the cluster would have originated in the technical escort team. As for the escort policemen on the Giro d’Italia, who follow autonomous prophylaxis dynamics, the recent Covid tests carried out have all returned negative responses."
It comes after a flurry of positive coronavirus tests at the Giro d'Italia, with pro riders Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) and Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) both being placed in isolation. The teams Mitchelton-Scott and Jumbo-Visma have already pulled out of the race, and there are doubts the race will reach its conclusion in Milan a week on Sunday.
The Giro-E comprises of 20 stages, all along the same roads as the main Giro d'Italia race with the length of each stage ranging between 70-115km. Organisers say it gives amateur cyclists or former pros the chance to experience the Giro, but on a slightly less brutal route and with the help of electric assist. Riders are split into teams, and although it's not technically a race there are winning jerseys offered for the general classification, sprinting, young team and regularity.
It's looking uncertain if the Giro-E and the Giro d'Italia will actually conclude with so many Covid cases happening on route; but organisers say the 17 officers were all replaced, and the events will go on...