The Estonian road bicycle racing team is considering pulling out from the Baltic Chain Tour after the Health Board imposed a two-week self-isolation requirement on three team members who came to Estonia from their clubs specially for the competition.
The self-isolation requirement applies to Karl Patrick Lauk (Team Pro Immo Nicolas Roux), Martin Laas (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Norman Vahtra (Israel Start-Up Nation).
Pointing out that the three athletes temporarily left their clubs specially to represent Estonia at Baltic Chain Tour, head coach of the Estonian national team Jaan Kirsipuu said that the cyclists in question have passed all necessary coronavirus tests in accordance with the requirements applied by the international cycling association UCI to registered clubs.
Kirsipuu said in a press release on Wednesday: "The responses of the coronavirus tests were negative without exception."
He said that a special UCI rule applies to professional cyclists which, when fulfilled, enables the cyclists to participate in international races. Similar rules apply to the organizer of the event. If the rule is not observed, the chief referee of the competition is obliged to cancel the race.
Kirsipuu said: "Hence maximum safety has been ensured by the UCI when it comes to preventing the spread of the virus at international cycling competitions. The movement restriction imposed by the Health Board creates a situation where Estonian cyclists are put in an unequal situation compared with cyclists from other countries.
He told ERR on Wednesday evening: "In the case of two competitors, the decision to come to Estonia came late and the countries they traveled from have been added to the so-called red list recently, Poland for example.
"The developments happened rapidly. We were hoping to reach a solution because we are not dealing with tourists, but rather cyclists here for work, following all quarantine requirements, with their teams isolated from the world and so forth. They've followed all the necessary rules and we were hoping that it would go smoother. Unfortunately, those three cyclists will now be left out of the Baltic Chain Tour and we are looking at if they can participate at the Estonian championships."
The Estonian championships are scheduled for August 18-22 in Laagri and Keila, after which the Estonian national cycling team will travel to France for the European championships.
Kirsipuu noted: "The men would have come home for the Estonian championships anyway, but unfortunately their countries of origin fell into the 'red zone'. You can't predict these things. The rest of the cycling world follows the principle of all teams following strict protocols. Competitions are happening in France, Poland and the Czech Republic - all red countries. But it's more difficult for Estonia."
Since Baltic Chain Tour is an UCI Class 2 competition, the organizers must ensure, in addition to abidance by the requirements of the national health authority, that also the safety requirements imposed by the UCI are adhered to.
In addition, in collaboration with the WHO, countries have been ranked by the level of risk, with fewer measures applied to lower risk countries or the measures being optional. Estonia is ranked as a low risk country.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste