Monthly Archives: July 2020

Owain Doull: ‘Very different’ cycling season set to resume

Owain Doull on the Team Ineos ‘bubble’

Team Ineos rider and 2016 Olympic champion Owain Doull says cycling will look “very different” as the World Tour season resumes in Italy.

Doull, 27, is riding the one-day Strade Bianche in Tuscany on Saturday.

The 184km (144-mile) race was due to be held in March but was cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Doull – who won Olympic gold on the track in the men’s team pursuit in 2016 – is preparing for an unusual resumption of the sport.

“From what I’ve seen in other races, it’s looking very different,” Doull told BBC Sport Wales.

“Everything from the sign-ons with people having to take their own pens, wiping down, hand sanitiser everywhere, face masks, temperature checks on the podium.

“It looks very different.”

Every rider in Tuscany will be tested twice before the men’s and women’s World Tour races.

Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, is also recommending restrictions placed on fans attending races.

Spectator numbers will be limited in the start and finish areas and they are encouraged to wear masks.

Team Ineos riders wearing face masks
Team Ineos riders wearing face masks at the Vuelta a Burgos in Spain

“Normally this race is lined with fans along these gravel roads,” continued Doull. “That’s one of the nice things about cycling – that kind of noise and atmosphere, you can feed off the crowd.

“So to have that gone is going to be very different. But the main thing is racing starts again and we can get something out of this year.”

It was a year that started so promisingly for the Welshman.

After making his Grand Tour debut at the 2019 Vuelta a Espana, he began 2020 with a win at Aix-en-Provence.

He was preparing for the traditional Spring Classics before the coronavirus outbreak brought the season to an abrupt halt.

Rather than racing around Europe, he was back home in Cardiff. A few ‘easy spins’ with his dad was all the company he could have on the roads.

But in July he was able to take part in a training camp in the Pyrenees as part of a Team Ineos ‘bubble’ – which he has remained in ever since.

“If this was a normal time of year and I had a two-week training camp and then I had one week until I was racing, I’d fly home for four or five days,” Doull explained.

“Instead I drove from the Pyrenees to Nice with my coach and another rider from the same bubble. We filled the car before we left, didn’t stop at all.

“We came down to the team house in Nice which is again only team-mates in there – everyone’s been tested, everyone’s part of the bubble.

“Then we drove from Nice to Tuscany for this race and then we’ll go straight from here to Poland [where Doull races next].”

Strict hygiene measures are not unusual for an elite athlete who wants to avoid picking up an illness. Doull has never been far away from a bottle of hand sanitiser since he first joined the British Cycling programme when he was 18.

The new protocols are a small price to pay for the chance to race again. Doull is even keeping that in perspective.

“It’s the smallest thing in the greater scheme of things. It’s really insignificant,” he said.

“I’m very grateful we can be back racing, as long as it’s safe and all the measures are in place.

“It would’ve been nice to have a good Classics, try to do the Giro [d’Italia] then various other races. But at the end of the day, it’s a tiny thing.

“I’m just super happy to be here now.”

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Alex Dowsett out of Vuelta a Burgos after team-mate’s positive coronavirus test

Alex Dowsett
Dowsett is a six-time British time trial champion

British rider Alex Dowsett has pulled out of the Vuelta a Burgos after a team-mate contracted coronavirus.

Dowsett, who rides for Israel Start Up Nation, withdrew before the race began on Tuesday as a precaution – but an initial test has come back negative.

In an eventful first day of World Tour cycling’s return to racing, Gijs Leemreize of Jumbo-Visma lost the tip of his finger in a crash.

Bora-Hansgrohe’s Felix Grossschartner won the first stage.

Leemreize, 20, has since had surgery to have the tip of his finger reattached by a plastic surgeon following the crash in the 158-kilometre stage from Catedral de Burgos to Mirador del Castillo in the north of Spain near Zaragoza.

The injury comes just a year after Jumbo-Visma rider Wout van Aert suffered serious damage to his leg after crashing into a barrier during a time trial.

Gijs Leemreize and Sebastian Henao
Leemreize lies stricken after the crash, which also involved Britain’s Simon Yates, left, and Team Ineos’ Sebastian Henao

‘It’s like a domino effect’

Dowsett’s Israel Start-Up Nation team – who have signed Chris Froome as team leader from 2021 – took the decision to withdraw the Briton after discovering 23-year-old rider Omer Goldstein had contracted the virus and then been in contact with another of their riders, Itamar Einhorn.

“Dowsett arrived at the race on Sunday and had dinner with team-mate Itamar Einhorn,” said a team spokesperson. “And Itamar had dinner with Omer the night before that.”

“It’s like a domino effect, but we faced it and had a choice – we had to make sure there wasn’t a risk to the peloton.”

Einhorn has also been withdrawn from the race but has since returned a negative test.

The move comes days after women’s team CCC-Liv withdrew from two races in Spain because the health risks from coronavirus were “simply too great”.

Former hour record holder Dowsett, 31, was one of four British riders competing in one of the first races since coronavirus lockdowns came into force in many countries in March.

Mark Cavendish finished the stage at the back of the peloton for Bahrain Merida, nearly 19 minutes down, but will have a chance to win sprint stages later in the race.

2018 Vuelta a Espana winner Simon Yates of Michelton Scott is also in the race along with Trek Segafredo’s Charlie Quarterman.

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Vuelta a Burgos: Colombian trio out after contact with person with coronavirus

Sebastian Molano
Molano joined UAE Team Emirates in 2019

Three more riders have been withdrawn from the Vuelta a Burgos in Spain after coming into contact with a person who later tested positive for coronavirus.

Colombians Sebastian Molano, Cristian Munoz and Camilo Ardila from UAE Team Emirates will not start stage two.

On Tuesday, British time trial champion Alex Dowsett and Itamar Einhorn withdrew after their team-mate Omer Goldstein returned a positive test.

The Vuelta a Burgos is the first major stage race to take place since March.

Britain’s Mark Cavendish and Simon Yates feature in the strong field.

The three Colombian riders were in contact with someone outside the race on Saturday who subsequently tested positive.

They all returned two negative tests prior to the race, which started on Tuesday.

In line with team and UCI protocols, the riders will now isolate and undergo a further test on Wednesday.

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Britain’s Greatest Olympic Moments: Sir Chris Hoy wins third gold at Beijing 2008

BBC Sport looks back at Sir Chris Hoy’s victory in the men’s sprint at Beijing 2008 – his third gold medal of the Games.

Find out whether this is among Britain’s Greatest Olympic Moments on BBC One and iPlayer on Saturday, July 25 at 13:15 BST.

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Olympics Rewind: Laura and Jason Kenny win cycling golds on same night at Rio 2016

BBC Sport looks back to the night at the 2016 Rio Olympics when Laura and Jason Kenny both won track cycling gold medals.

Watch Olympics Rewind: Rio 2016 on BBC Two and iPlayer.

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