(Paris) Two days before the start of the Tour of Italy, COVID-19 is coming back to haunt the peloton with several riders testing positive and forced to forfeit, particularly within the team of Primoz Roglic, one of the two great favorites of the Giro, particularly affected.

On Thursday, the Jumbo-Visma formation announced a third positive case with Jos van Emden. The Dutchman had been one of the two riders with Rohan Dennis to have been recalled the day before only to make up for the absence of Robert Gesink and Tobias Foss, already affected by the virus.

He will in turn be replaced by Sam Oomen, but it is a new blow for Primoz Roglic, deprived of several of his lieutenants and who does not approach the Giro in the best conditions.

“It’s obviously not ideal. But we will deal with it and we will find solutions,” commented the highly anticipated Slovenian leader on Italian roads, as did the Belgian Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quick Step).

“We’re going to do everything we can to stay healthy and get through these three weeks. It takes a bit of luck too,” he added.

“It’s always scary to see several runners sidelined due to illness, especially COVID-19,” said Remco Evenepoel. I think we will do like in the last Vuelta, wear masks, be a little more careful, wash our hands more often to prevent the virus from spreading. »

“Losing several riders in the peloton must be a message to everyone, that we all have to be careful and that the virus is still there. This applies to runners, sports directors or journalists. Wear a mask when I see you on Saturday”, developed the Belgian during a video press conference, which has become a habit for all teams since the start of the pandemic.

Contacted by AFP, the organizers did not immediately indicate whether special precautionary measures would be taken.

Jumbo-Visma is not the only team affected. Thursday, the Bahrain team announced the package of one of its leaders, the Swiss Gino Mäder, who had to give up with a heavy heart. The same misadventure had already happened to him just before the last Tour de France.

Like Robert Gesink and Tobias Foss, Mäder took part last week in the Tour de Romandie. Seventh in the general classification in Switzerland, the Frenchman Romain Bardet, who had not planned to compete in the Giro, is also “covid” as he indicated on Instagram.

Two days before the start of the Giro, riders like the Italian Damiano Caruso and the Frenchman Thibaut Pinot, who were present in Romandie, hope to have escaped the virus.

After having greatly disrupted the progress of races since the start of the epidemic in 2020 before a relative return to normal, COVID-19 seems to have experienced a resurgence in recent weeks in the peloton.

At the end of April, after Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Warren Barguil and Giulio Ciccone had also tested positive. If the Frenchman from Arkea-Samsic is restored and has confirmed his participation in the Giro, the Italian has given up.

“My heart is broken, but I have to listen to my body,” said the Trek-Segafredo climber.

Briton Geraint Thomas, winner of the Tour de France in 2018 and one of the outsiders of this Giro, did not want to be too alarmist on Thursday, however.

“I’m not particularly worried. It’s been like that for a few years now. In the team, we are very careful, but we cannot control everything. That’s how it is, that’s life, “said the leader of Ineos.