Spanish training camps in the grip of Corona: “Infection now threatens the spring”
Half of the professional peloton is on Spanish soil these days to heighten the condition. But boot camps won’t be worry-free this year. Oliver Nissen puts his finger on the wound. “If you get corona here on stage, you have to switch to plan B. You will also get a psychological blow,” he says.
The training camp in Jumbo-Visma has been canceled after a positive case and a number of high-risk contacts. Some have returned home, others – including Wout van Aert – continue their training here individually. At AG2R-Citroën, four employees went home. Other teams including Bahrain Victorious and Ineos Grenadiers were also affected. At Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise, five riders and a sports director went home.
Cycling teams are no different from the rest of society. Many precautions are taken, but no one is immune from infection. At Jumbo-Visma, the riders were tested every day, at the AG2R-Citroën every two days. Mouthpieces – even FFP2 masks – are only allowed on the bike and on the table.
We are testing it ourselves this week. A number of mediums (including WielerFlits) are allowed on stage, but not without a negative PCR test up to a maximum of 48 hours, with antigen testing completed upon our arrival at the hotels. Every day again. We are also required to wear an FFP2 mask and maintain an adequate distance. Training in the team car will not be an option in 2022.
Naesen: ‘It would be a small disaster’
Oliver Nissen doesn’t want to use the term “panic fear,” but he certainly isn’t comfortable with it. “I am very fated about that. I suppose you have an award in the next two weeks,” says Naesen. “So this is a small disaster. If training stops, it will in any case create a gap in preparation for the classics and you will not be able to close that in Belgium then.”
“If you have symptoms, you have to get off the bike anyway. If you keep training, you will absolutely kill yourself. I look at myself: December was good, then two quiet weeks followed early in the year. Suppose another two ‘zero weeks’ were added, So I have a buildup that can’t be recovered anymore. Still aiming to spring.”
“Take Stan Deolph last year. He got injured during that time. He gave it up pretty big and didn’t show up until the second half of the season. In the spring he wasn’t really up to par. No, if you get infected here, you’re not on plan A anymore. And yet That’ll get a little bit mental too, I’m afraid.”
Deowulf positive in 2021
Stan Deolph is indeed an expert by experience. He tested positive in the first half of January last year. “It was new at the time, of course. We still know little. I wasn’t really sick, but got tired faster, accompanied by a loss of smell and taste. My condition was more than good during the spring, but after every effort at maximum heart rate, I was Do it for me.”
“I would like to mention that I cannot say with one hundred percent certainty that the corona infection was the cause of this,” DeWulf says. “That’s why I didn’t tell her last year, because I didn’t want to use it as an excuse – cheap – either. Maybe I wasn’t good enough. But the truth is that I hit my best level again only in the second part of 2021.”
Deowulf is little more than Naesen’s resignation. “We have to take our precautions and pay close attention. But if you are unlucky, you are unlucky. We came here by plane, and that too is a risk. It could have just happened.”
Van Avermaet: “Better now than in February or March”
The words omikron and corona are constantly falling on stage. “It’s the number one topic of conversation,” says Niessen. “Everyone has a positive person in their family or acquaintance circle. There is more talk of infection than of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Certainly.”
Greg van Avermaet injured himself in October and had to be quarantined. Its accumulation until 2022 began with a 10-day delay. “Because I’ve already got it, I hope to be more protective now,” says the former Olympic champion. But of course we remain cautious. For example, I still wash my hands often. Is infection a disaster in the spring? Better now, than it was in February or March, I think. It’s never perfect, but if you already have a reasonable backlog, a week of rest might not be a disaster. “