EF Pro Cycling manager Jonathan Vaughters insists his team are “not threatening to leave the race” after attempting to canvas support for the Giro d’Italia to finish early.
Eurosport revealed earlier that EF want the Giro to be halted at the second rest day due to "a clearly compromised bubble".
Two teams have already departed the race in Italy due to positive Covid-19 tests, Mitchelton-Scott and Team Jumbo-Visma, sparking fears that the race would not make it to the finish in Milan on October 25.
And while Vaughters said his team was hoping to agree to an earlier finish date, he said there was no “menacing tone” in their letter to Giro organisers RCS, their fellow teams and the UCI.
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“This is just a suggestion to RCS,” Vaughters told Eurosport’s Orla Chennaoui on The Breakaway.
“We’re not threatening to leave the race. There’s no menacing tone to this.
Vaughters exclusive: 'We’re not threatening to leave the race'
“But when we look at the 11 positive tests that happened on the last rest day [Monday], that brings you to a total positivity rate of about two percent inside the ‘race bubble’.
“At two percent positivity rate, our medical director feels that you’re starting to flirt with the bubble being pierced.
Given the close quarters of the hotels, given the close proximity of the peloton, given there is inevitably some interaction between teams during the race, we felt it was our responsibility to ask RCS to not push the luck that much.
“That isn’t to say they’ve done anything wrong to this point, that isn’t to say the race can’t make it to Milan completely safely. It may be able to.
“It’s just our suggestion that as opposed to risking that you get more positives, and then another team leaves, and the race runs the risk of just sort of ending one day randomly, that we actually decide as a group, as all of the teams and RCS working together, on an end point together.
“So everyone knows when the race is going to end and we know what the risks are for the rest of the race, as opposed to right now where things are sort of unknown.
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“It could become pretty chaotic if you have further teams deciding to leave and other teams wanting to race, and everyone being divided.
“It was our attempt to unify the opinion in ending the race a little bit early.”
Vaughters was also confused by the response from the UCI, who refused to consider ending the Giro early in the wake of EF’s letter. Eurosport has also seen the UCI’s reply.
“Well the response and the plan of action wasn’t really anything different to what was given to us at the beginning of the race,” said Vaughters.
I can’t tell because the response is so limited and so vague, I can’t really tell if our concerns or suggestions were taken seriously or whether they were just brushed aside.
“I don’t really know what to make of it, the letter didn’t really get to the core of the issues or seem to address our suggestion.”
The race continued on Thursday as Jhonatan Narvaez claimed Ineos Grenadiers’ third win on Stage 12.
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