Colombian cyclist Fernando Gaviria has hailed the UAE for providing him the "best care and attention in the world" after making a full recovery from the coronavirus.
Gaviria, a key rider for the locally-based UCI World Tour team UAE Team Emirates, contracted Covid-19 during February's UAE Tour, which was cancelled with two stages of the race remaining after two Italian participants tested positive.
Gaviria, 25, was then treated in a hospital in Abu Dhabi before announcing on March 26 that he had been discharged.
“I would like to thank the UAE government, our team president, Matar Suhail Al Yabhouni Al Dhaheri and the whole of the UAE Team Emirates team for their support," Gaviria said. "It has been a difficult period but I am lucky to have had the best care and attention in the world.”
Gaviria has now returned to his home country with 55 other returnees on a plane filled with 13 tons of medical material donated by the UAE.
“I am very happy to be able to return home and embrace my loved ones, while still being aware that this pandemic is still among us and that we cannot let our guard down,” he said.
“My hope is to return to normality and get back racing as soon as possible. Until then, please follow the government instructions to try to limit the spread of the virus.”
Gaviria, who joined UAE Team Emirates ahead of the 2019 season, is one of the most accomplished sprinters on the UCI World Tour. He won the Giro d'Italia points classification title in 2017 and has won seven individual Grand Tour stages (two at Tour de France, five at Giro).
Gaviria began the 2020 season in encouraging style, winning three stages at the Vuelta a San Juan before the season was halted by the pandemic.