Private chefs, exclusive hotels, a laboratory on the circuit … This is the bubble of the cycling World Cup

Private chefs, exclusive hotels, a laboratory on the circuit … This is the bubble of the cycling World Cup

The championship that starts in Imola expands the Tour's anti-Covid measures, with a PCR three days before the competition

Private chefs, exclusive hotels, a laboratory on the circuit ... This is the bubble of the cycling World Cup

Individual dishes, private cook, individual rooms, reserved rooms, separate tables, masks, prohibited visits and banned contact with the press. The Donatello de Ímola hotel is the bunker of the Spanish team in the World Cycling Championship, which starts today with the women's time trial and will culminate on Sunday with the men's road event. The hotel complex is included in an anti-Covid-19 bubble designed by the International Cycling Union (UCI), which tightens the isolation conditions of the completed Tour. In the French round, the cyclists passed a PCR control per week; now they have undergone a test before starting the concentration and will be done another three days before competing. There will be a counter analysis and if the result is positive, the rider will be sent off, but could be replaced by another.

The UCI collects the tests carried out by the teams before going to the World Cup, but it has also hired specialists to carry out tests, either at the hotels or at the Enzo e Dino Ferrari Autodrome itself, where they have set up a specific laboratory. The tests can be carried out without getting out of the cars and the results will be known after 15 minutes. The historic Formula 1 and motorcycle circuit is the headquarters of the championship, it is located near Bologna and within a range of 30 kilometers are the hotels of the 33 participating teams. It is a narrower and more oppressive perimeter than the one established by the Tour.

A giant bubble for an atypical championship. It has been organized in record time after Switzerland's refusal to host the D'Aigle World Cup for fear of Covid-19 infections, with fewer races (without youth and sub'23) and with public and press restrictions . Journalists will not be allowed to enter team hotels or do on-site interviews. They will only contact the cyclists in the mixed zone of the finish line.

“We are going to follow the protocols to the letter, we do not want surprises”, warns Cesáreo López , doctor of the Spanish Cycling Federation. “We are all very aware, we are not going to leave a rope untied. We are already rolling. Runners, mechanics, assistants, masseurs and staff will be subjected to strict isolation . Those who come from the Tour or the Giro Rosa have brought the results of the last controls, the rest have shown two negative PCRs, one carried out six days before arriving at Ímola and another three days before entering the bubble ”, clarifies the doctor.

All teams have reserved areas of the hotels where no one can enter, not even family members. Outside contact is minimal. The Spanish team has brought food from Spain. “We only buy fresh,” says the doctor.

«This World Championship is mentally very hard, because we could say that this is the third bubble for the riders, the first was that of preparation for the Tour, with the teams' concentrations, then that of the Tour and now that of Ímola. They are separated from their families for many weeks. Now it would be their turn to rest, but they are here “, says Pascual Momparler , the Spanish coach, who clarifies that working like this is strange:” We are practically alone in the hotel, with a whole floor to ourselves . We do not share the dining room with anyone and, in addition, we have an exclusive basement, where we have bicycles and equipment, no one enters there ».

Momparler clarifies that he selected only cyclists who finished the Tour, because now they have “one step higher” than other riders. It will be a very tough road World Championship: the route consists of a 28.8-kilometer circuit, which will be completed nine laps and which includes two three-kilometer climbs, with an average percentage of 10%. The accumulated unevenness is 5,000 meters. “It will be a very open test. Alejandro Valverde is the colonel and Enric Mas and Mikel Landa , the captains ”, Momparler warns.

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