Filippo Ganna leaves Giro d'Italia with COVID-19, dealing blow to Ineos
Filippo Ganna has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of stage 8 of the 2023 race, leaving Ineos Grenadiers a rider down at the Giro d'Italia.
In an announcement on Twitter, the team said, "Filippo Ganna will regrettably not line up to contest today’s Stage 8 of the 2023 #Giro, after testing positive for Covid-19 and displaying mild, flu-like symptoms.
"Filippo will now rest and recover fully before resuming his remaining 2023 race programme."
Ganna is the fourth rider to leave the Giro d'Italia with COVID-19, following news that the Italian duo Nicola Conci (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Giovanni Aleotti (Bora-Hansgrohe) left Giro d'Italia with positive tests before stage 6. That came after the news that Clément Russo (Arkea-Samsic) would be leaving the race earlier that morning.
On Saturday Jumbo-Visma denied to Cyclingnews that Primož Roglič is or has been racing with COVID-1 after rumours emerged from the peloton.
“To be honest, you surprise me with this rumour because I don’t know anything about this rumour. There is no issue,” Jumbo-Visma directeur sportif Addy Engels told Cyclingnews before stage 8.
Ganna was the favourite for Sunday's 35km time trial to Cesena but he left the Giro d'Italia early on Saturday morning when his COVID-19 was confirmed.
Speaking to Cyclingnews at the start of stage 8, Rod Ellingsworth explained, "He started not feeling great yesterday during the day, on the bike he wasn’t feeling brilliant. He tested positive this morning."
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The latest UCI protocol stipulates that a rider does not necessarily need to leave the race in the event of a positive test for COVID-19. However, the team determined it was the best course of action, despite the loss of a key rider in the race.
"We just decided it’s best for Filippo [to leave the race], for the team, for everybody - you calculate the risks, don’t you, and there’s the protocol that you don’t have to take them out necessarily, but we decided that it was best for the team to take that decision," Ellingsworth said.
He stressed that the decision was a difficult one to make, given Ganna's role in the team, and the significance of the time trial on stage 9 to the Italian national time trial champion.
"It’s life now - you’re living with it - and you’ve just got to put up with it," Ellingsworth said. "You know I’d say one of the things is Filippo has been super cautious coming into the race and this is a big deal for him being in Italy and in the national champs jersey for the time trial tomorrow.
"We haven’t taken the decision lightly at all and you have to think about the wider team and think about Filippo, and his health in particular, and you change things up and keep moving on."
Ganna's absence will be felt not only in Sunday's key time trial but also as a key support rider for the team's leaders Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart.
"Of course, it’s disappointing - more for Filippo as he’s a great character and he plays a massive role in the team, I don't just mean here at the Giro but generally and he can win bike races."
When asked by Cyclingnews whether the rest of the team were at risk of infection, Ellingsworth seemed reassured by a series of tests in the team. Salvatore Puccio told La Gazzetta dello Sport that all the riders were tested on Saturday morning.
"Nobody else has got symptoms or anything," Ellingsworth said. "Obviously, we’ve got to be super careful, like everyone else - there are a few other teams around with certain things happening."
In the overall general classification standings, Geraint Thomas sits in sixth place at 1:26, while Ineos' other joint-team leader Tao Geoghegan Hart is four seconds behind him - meaning both riders are around one minute behind race favourite Remco Evenepoel, who currently sits in second place.