Coronavirus: French cycling team Cofidis quarantined in UAE until March 14

Team Cofidis of France pose before the start of the first stage of the UAE Tour from the Pointe to Silicon Oasis in Dubai on Feb 23, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - The two French cycling teams kept in the United Arab Emirates following the outbreak of coronavirus that ended the UAE Tour, will be quarantined for 10 more days, team officials said on Wednesday (March 4).

"We have just learnt that we are officially quarantined, in theory until March 14," Thierry Vittu, the president of Cofidis' competition team, posted on Facebook.

The 12-member Groupama squad, which includes four riders, also remains under quarantine.

"We're officially in quarantine with a probable return on March 14," said Arnaud Demare, a one of the Groupama-FDJ riders.

"We've learnt that some people who tested positive for coronavirus were occupying the same floor as us."

He said he has not ridden since Thursday evening and that would have an impact on his racing.

"Still waiting for a bike, sixth day without being able to train. However, the priority for us now is no longer to resume training but to be quarantined on a different floor."

There was no immediate comment from the other two teams who were in lockdown, UAE Team and Russian-backed Gazprom.

The UAE Tour was abandoned last Thursday after two Italian staff members with one of the teams tested positive for the disease.

On Tuesday the UAE announced six more related cases, saying that two Russians, two Italians, one German and a Colombian had been infected.

On Monday, Vittu had tweeted that the team was being "held hostage". On Wednesday he said the news of a definite date was welcome.

"Of course the deadline is far away (although it's only 10 days) but in a way, it's a kind of relief," he said. "What has been difficult to live with so far has been the absence of a deadline and the constant expectation of a close outcome that never came.

"Now we know where we stand, and even if the confinement to our rooms continues, everyone will manage to find occupations, distractions, activities..."

Demare said he hoped the Groupama team could be repatriated to France so they could be quarantined "at home".

After the initial cases, cyclists, team staff and some media were put under lockdown at hotels in Abu Dhabi where they underwent screening, with most cleared to leave over the past few days.

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