The Belgian Cycling Federation has tightened its COVID-19 protocol for cyclocross races, obliging riders to show they have tested negative for the virus before being allowed to compete.
The stricter rules also cover team staff, race officials and even media, and will first be enforced at next Saturday’s Urban Cross in Kortrijk.
The new rules are stricter than the UCI protocol and will force teams to undergo far more COVID-19 testing. Fortunately the rapid tests, rather than the PCR swab tests used for most of the road racing tests, have been approved in Belgium.
Belgium suffered a high number of COVID-19 cases during the first wave in the spring and was one of the first European countries to be hit by a second wave. The one-day Classics went ahead in October but with the public told to stay at home. COVID-19 case numbers are now declining but data shows 4165 cases were confirmed in the last seven days, with 171 deaths. Belgium announced a lockdown on October 30, with schools only opening on November 15. Sven Nys’ Telenet Baloise Lions team are planning to create their own rapid test station near each race venue, calculating an extra cost of around €15,000 for the season.
“Before each cross, we’ll set up our own ‘corona test station’ on the way to or near the location of the match in question within a closed space,” Nys told Het Laatste Nieuws.
“Every member of the team who is involved in the race, including team managers, carers, mechanics and […]