We roll with some trepidation into the Alpine rest day of the Tour de France, as the entire peloton plus team staff, the UCI jury, and other key Tour de France personnel were all tested for COVID after Sunday’s stage. The results of those tests are starting to trickle in, first via reporting by CyclingTips and other media outlets and, sometime tomorrow, as a formal report from the UCI and Tour de France organizer ASO.
A number of teams have already returned 100% negative results and will enter the rest day with a calm that comes from knowing they will start the Tour de France on Tuesday. Crucially, the teams of Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard are both in the clear, according to a report from Het Laaste Nieuws. The below list is a combination of independently verified negatives and reporting from HLN and others.
Tour teams with all negative tests
- Intermarché Wanty-Gobert
- Lotto Soudal
- Quick Step Alpha-Vinyl
- UAE Team Emirates
How does the Tour de France’s COVID testing work?
Under the UCI’s revised COVID protocol, the testing process can be broken down into three parts.
First is an antigen test. These are the tests performed on the entire peloton just after the stage. Riders descended from the finish to the team bus area, about 6 km below, and were immediately handed a mask and whisked away to a testing tent. They returned roughly 5-10 minutes later to shower and change.
The results of those tests began to arrive late Sunday evening.
In the event of a positive antigen test, the rider or staff member will receive a PCR test. PCR tests are more sensitive and provide more detail than the simple “yes/no” of an antigen test. PCR tests generate a Cycle Threshold (CT) score, essentially a measure of how much virus is being shed by the individual in question. Higher numbers are better. A number below 30 or 35 (there appears to be some leeway here) is a definitive positive and the rider is out of the Tour. Above that threshold and there are decisions to be made.
If CT is over 30 or 35, a three-doctor tribunal of sorts, comprised of a team doctor, the Tour’s COVID doctor, and a UCI doctor, all decide what to do with a particular case. These doctors can let a rider continue to race or send him home. Bob Jungels, who won Sunday’s stage, tested positive in the days before the Tour began but returned a score over 35 before the start and was thus allowed to line up. It is possible that a rider who scores close to 35 on Sunday night could be tested again Monday night and be cleared to race. This is why in this case, no news is unlikely to be good news.
We will update the above list of confirmed negatives as teams release their results.