The news that Simon Yates had to withdraw from the Giro d'Italia after testing positive for Covid-19 will have sent shockwaves through the peloton, according to Brian Smith.
Mitchelton-Scott announced that team leader Yates would not start Stage 8 of the Giro after he returned a positive test for coronavirus having developed symptoms after Stage 7. No other members of staff tested positive but Yates was forced to withdraw from the race.
After the Tour de France passed off without incident regarding coronavirus, Yates, a GC contender at the Giro, became the first rider to withdraw from a Grand Tour after testing positive. Tighter restrictions coming in across Europe to deal with a second wave of the pandemic have also seen the Amstel Gold and Paris-Roubaix races cancelled.
Speaking on the Bradley Wiggins Show podcast, Smith said that he fears the Giro itself will now be at threat with the race set to finish in Milan on October 25.
"It's tough times and it could get tougher," Smith said to Bradley Wiggins. "You know, will this race get to Milan? That's the big thing because a lot of major cities are going into lockdown now, so it's troubling times and I am just so thankful that we are seeing racing. That's a privilege. We are actually seeing racing."
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Wiggins added: "It kind of gives us some answers why he wasn't himself on Etna (on Stage 2) when there appeared to be no explanation for that, that's quite a worry isn't it. Because I think during the Tour de France we got used to almost forgetting that this is still a problem (for pro cycling). It's come up more often than not recently, particularly with the likes of Amstel Gold and Paris-Roubaix and now it almost is worrying for us all. Even us working here, we kind of wonder if we will be able to see this race out."
Smith believes the fact that a big GC name like Yates was forced out of the race due to Covid will have given all the teams in the race a "big kick up the backside" after a Tour de France which saw all riders avoid positive tests.
The fact that Yates will have been riding while infected is also cause for concern given the close proximity of riders as they group together in the peloton for much of the day.
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"After the Tour de France I think the pro peloton became confident that they could get through a Grand Tour and then it was a bit of a shock that Paris-Roubaix was cancelled," Smith said.
"These guys are getting their temperature taken three times a day and it is a bit of a shock because if Simon had it, the incubation time, he's in the peloton for the past few days, you don't know what's going to happen.
"I think that will make a bit of a difference for the other teams. The other teams will look at it, well if Simon can get it, any of us can get it. I'm not saying that the teams have been complacent because the teams are doing what they are doing - but when you are changing, you are going into a hotel, you are trusting, you are doing what you can. If any teams were complacent, this is going to be a big kick up the backside for them."