Blow for Tadej Pogacar in Tour de France after teammate tests positive for Covid-19

UAE Team Emirates rider Vegard Stake Laengen withdraws from race

UAE Team Emirates rider Vegard Stake Laengen leads his teammates during Stage 7 of the Tour de France on July 8, 2022.  AFP
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Tadej Pogacar's hopes of winning a third successive Tour de France have suffered a blow after teammate Vegard Stake Laengen tested positive for Covid-19.

On Friday, the UAE Team Emirates rider secured back-to-back stage victories to maintain his overall lead, after the first summit finish of the 2022 race.

But 33-year-old Norwegian Laengen, often seen pulling at the front of the UAE Team Emirates train in a headwind, took ill overnight despite testing negative on Thursday morning.

He is the second rider to be sent home following AG2R's announcement on Saturday that their French rider Geoffrey Bouchard had been sent home for the same reason.

“Vegard tested negative yesterday morning during the routine internal team testing protocol,” said UAE Team Emirates' doctor Adriano Rotunno.

“But he reported sore throat symptoms late last night. The Covid-19 antigen test was positive, and the diagnosis was confirmed on PCR test this morning.

“As per protocol, for his, the team, and the peloton’s safety, he will be withdrawn from the race.”

Laengen was withdrawn from the Tour of Slovenia last month when his roommate Mikkel Bjerg tested positive.

Pogacar wins Stage 6

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 31 secs from Jonas Vingegaard with Ineos rider Geraint Thomas third, over a minute behind, but there are 14 stages remaining.

The Slovenian front-runner had been buoyant after Friday's Stage 7 victory. “It was really, really difficult, especially in the last part where Jonas [Vingegaard] attacked - he was so strong,” he said

“But I said yeah, my boys were working all day so I had to push to the finish line. It was a really special day.

“We opened a foundation today for cancer research, so I wore special shoes just for today, and I'm really happy and proud to take this win on Planche des Belle Filles.”

Updated: July 09, 2022, 11:13 AM