Home » Covid at the Giro. Are retirements a wake-up call for every cyclist’s health?

Covid at the Giro. Are retirements a wake-up call for every cyclist’s health?

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Covid at the Giro.  Are retirements a wake-up call for every cyclist’s health?

Remco Evenepoel in the pink jersey who abandons the Giro d’Italia. RCSto follow, which reintroduces the obligation to wear a mask (bus parking of the start/finish teams, signature podium area; prize-giving podium area; mixed zone; finish line area; press conference area; anti-doping area).

The long wave of positivity has overwhelmed the group (18 positive tests).
Il Covid at the Giro he is (perhaps) the number one opponent to beat to reach the finish line in Rome.

Photo: LaPresse

In the background runners who communicate thepremature abandonment of the activity due to some irregularities that emerged following the cardiological screening programs.
The last cases concern Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates, photo below), 31 years old, e Heinrich Haussler (Team Bahrain Victorious), 39 anni.

The perception of risk

On 13 January 2023, the UCI updated the Covid-19 protocol for the 2023 season, a document which to date has not been canceled or even updated.

Friday 5 May, on the eve of the start of the 106th Giro d’Italia, theWorld Health Organization declares the end of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). An act which, however, is far from being a “free for all” because new parameters and guidelines are identified for monitoring the Covid-19.

Net of all the elements in the field in terms of public health, the meshes have widened while in cycling, on the occasion of the Giro, the policy adopted seems to be in the opposite direction. It seems… because let’s not forget it: between Covid and cycling there is always the health of runnersthat is, whoever does this sport and in a certain sense produces it, for the benefit of many.

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Covid at the Giro
Photo: Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse

What really changes is the risk perception by the teams.
The ranking (the pink jersey in this case) matters, but up to a certain point: don’t hesitate too much to mess up plans, investments and training sessions.

The words of Patrick Lefevere (photo below), CEO of the Soudal Quick-Step team, relaunched by the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad regarding Evenepoel’s withdrawal from the Giro: «Last year we had several cases of Covid in our team, Tim Declerq even ended up in hospital with pericarditis. For me it’s not worth it, I don’t play with the life of a 23 year old boy”.

Covid and cycling

Lefevere replies to the article by Pier Bergonzi“Evenepoel, Covid and the respect due to the Giro”, which appeared in the Gazzetta dello Sport on 16 May.
Regardless of the ways in which Evenepoel communicated his state of health and abandoned the Corsa Rosa, one sentence remains that does not grant an appeal: “I don’t play with the life of a 23-year-old boy”.

Ok, let’s still talk about the World Champion, but after Colbrelli’s accident more than one thing has changed. Is Covid involved? Better to stop, make a negative swab “coupon” and start running again “as a special observer”, that is, with the doctor’s eyes on you.

Photo: Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse

The reason for this change is still not entirely clear. Or better: there are no scientific studies able to certify the effects of Covid-19 on the health of an athlete, professional or amateur.

And the cascading unknown factor also affects the state of health of the Heartan organ that is particularly stressed in endurance sports.

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Photo: Riba Rehabilitation Institute (IRR) – Turin

Covid at the Giro: stop to listen to each other

To clarify the situation we returned from dr. Maximilian Maines (photo below), 49 years old, surgeon, specialist in Cardiology and head of the outpatient clinic Sports Cardiology at the “Santa Maria del Carmine” hospital in Rovereto.
A profile that we had already consulted to try to analyze the relationship between Covid and cycling and heart disease.

Covid and cycling
«Medical Science has not yet developed studies on the repercussions of Covid-19 on an athlete’s body to the point that the Italian Sports Medical Federation has not expressed any judgments on the matter
– needs Maines -. If we play the evaluations in terms of health, I can say that the decisions of the teams to send home at the slightest sign even riders who could race following a positive swab (see Bystrøm of Intermaché, ed, photo below) are correct”.

Covid at the Giro
Photo: Intermarché-Circus-Wanty

«To tell the truth, any athlete with an active infection should be withdrawn from a competition. It’s undeniable: the lack of certainties leads the teams to be very cautious.”.
It is no coincidence that cardiological screening has been strengthened.

How should a amateur cyclist who can’t count on a medical team that is always available and sometimes makes use of the best international consultants?
It is possible even for a non-professional athlete “make a coupon to the heart” to understand if everything is ok to the point of limiting the risk of complications?

«The basal and exercise electrocardiogram, mandatory during the sports medical fitness visit – continues Maines – already offers a first level of monitoring. Good, I dare say, to the point that if no anomalies are found, no further progress is made. Becomes important to “listen”: chest pain, difficulty in breathing, episodes of pounding heart or fainting are all indicators that should not be overlooked».

«There is an upstream consideration to make. THE health systems of the various countries are under pressure. The thing is that it’s not always so easy to subject a patient with pathology to a heart MRI, let alone a healthy subject…”.

From the events of the Giro we can therefore draw a lesson: annual sports medical check-up even if we don’t need the certificate to take part in the races and a greater ability to listen to the signals of our body.

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Waiting for certainties…

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