Christian Prudhomme, the race director of the Tour de France, has tested positive for coronavirus and left the race after 650 swab tests were carried out on race officials, riders and team staff during Monday’s first rest day.
“The testing campaign revealed that Christian Prudhomme has tested positive for Covid-19. The director of the Tour will now quarantine for seven days,” read a statement from race promoters ASO. “Although he was not part of the ‘race bubble’ and had not been in direct contact with any of the riders and their entourage, Christian Prudhomme still decided to get tested.”
Prudhomme’s positive test has now sparked concerns for the health of the French prime minister, Jean Castex, who was a VIP guest in Prudhomme’s car during Saturday’s stage to Loudenvielle in the Pyrenees. “They were both wearing masks and respecting social distancing,” a spokesman for Castex said. “The prime minister is to undergo a new test, just in case.”
Although no riders tested positive, four teams now risk being excluded from the Tour, under the “two strikes and you’re out” protocol if they have another positive test within seven days, after backroom staff from Ineos Grenadiers, Mitchelton-Scott, Cofidis and AG2R tested positive.
On a chaotic morning of rumours and speculation, the results of the battery of tests were finally confirmed before the start of stage 10 in the Charente-Maritime region. The positive test for Ineos Grenadiers – the team of the defending champion, Egan Bernal – will have come as a surprise to the team principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, who told the Guardian on Monday that he “wouldn’t expect our team to have any issues”.
“We figured that the high-risk area is when everybody sits down to eat,” Brailsford said. “They take their mask off, and sit together for longer than 15 minutes and that’s one of the riskiest scenarios. That’s why we brought a second chef.”
“We have our kitchen truck, so we have one chef cooking for the riders as normal and the second chef cooking for all of the staff. All of the staff have eaten outside [the hotel] since we got here. Once you buy into it, it’s OK really.”