The defending champion Marc Hirschi and Tadej Pogacar, another candidate for victory, will not participate in the Flèche Wallonne this Wednesday. Their UAE Emirates team was unable to take the start due to two positive coronavirus tests. The Emirati team, which vaccinated all of its runners at the start of the season, indicates for its part that these are two “false positives”.
The UAE team of Slovenian Tadej Pogacar and Swiss Marc Hirschi had to give up participating in the Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday due to cases of positive Covid-19 results in its workforce. Marc Hirschi will not be able to defend his title, although he was once again a contender for victory like his teammate, winner of the last Tour de France.
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A runner, the Italian Diego Ulissi, and a member of the staff were declared “positive” during tests carried out on their arrival in Belgium, specified the Emirati formation. The two men, who have no symptoms, then underwent three other tests, two antigens and one molecular, which gave a negative result, as were the checks carried out in the days before the trip to Belgium.
The team is fully vaccinated
“The team is frustrated but fully accepts the final decision of the Belgian authorities,” commented UAE, which had its workforce vaccinated at the start of the year. The Pogacar team hope to be able to take part in the Dean of Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday, after having undergone new tests.
“We are all negative and we are not starting Flèche Wallone. We had false positives yesterday, but three times negative results thereafter,” Tadej Pogacar indicated on his Twitter account, obviously frustrated at not being able to compete for the first time in his career at the Flèche Wallonne, a race that suits him perfectly on paper.
Absences which reinforce the status of favorite of the world champion Julian Alaphilippe, double winner of the event and absent in 2020. Primoz Roglic and Alejandro Valverde are the other big favorites of this classic, three days after the success of Wout Van Aert, absent this Wednesday, on the Amstel Gold Race.