Pogacar loses second teammate to Covid at Tour de France

The defending champion has only five teammates left with 12 stages remaining


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UAE Team Emirates rider George Bennett. — AFP
UAE Team Emirates rider George Bennett. — AFP

Published: Tue 12 Jul 2022, 4:10 PM

Last updated: Tue 12 Jul 2022, 4:11 PM

Tour de France leader Tadej Pogacar lost a second UAE Team Emirates teammate ahead of stage 10 on Tuesday as New Zealander George Bennett was withdrawn.

Vegard Stake Laengen of the UAE Team Emirates pulled out on Saturday and Bennett’s loss means Pogacar has only five teammates left with 12 stages remaining.

With three days in the Alps coming up and sizzling temperatures expected, Pogacar’s rivals will take the news as a boost to their chances.

“George displayed some symptoms on Monday night and tested positive,” team doctor Adrien Rottuno said.

Rotunno revealed last Saturday the extreme measures the team have gone to in order to avoid infection.

“All the riders have their own room, when normally they would share. They also all have their own masseur,” he said.

Just ahead of the Tour, Matteo Trentin, a key member of Pogacar’s team, also pulled out of the race with Covid.

Pogacar leads the race by 39sec from Jonas Vingegaard with Ineos rider Geraint Thomas third, 1min 17sec behind, but big changes are expected over the next three stages.

Bennett is the fifth rider so far to pull out due to Covid following Australian rider Luke Durbridge of the Bike Exchange who also withdrew on Tuesday.

French riders Geoffrey Bouchard and Guillaume Martin have also been forced out of the race by the virus.

Half a dozen riders had to be replaced prior to the start of the Tour after testing positive for Covid.

There have also been casualties in the backroom staff of the teams with Quick-Step on their third sporting director since it began in Copenhagen on July 1.

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