(Reuters) – The UAE Tour featuring some of the world’s leading riders has been canceled with two stages remaining due to a coronavirus scare, four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome said late on Thursday.
While there was no official word from race organizers, Team Ineos rider Froome took to Twitter to say that all the riders were being tested at the hotel.
“It’s a shame that the #UAETour has been canceled but public health must come first,” the Briton said.
“We are all awaiting testing and will remain at the hotel until further notice. I hope those affected make a speedy recovery and there aren’t any further cases #coronavirus.”
Several teams also said the UCI World Tour race, which started on Sunday, had been called off.
“We have taken note of the cancellation of the UAE Tour due to the occurrence of the coronavirus,” the Dutch Jumbo-Visma team said on their Twitter feed.
“We wish all the people involved the very best, awaiting further developments.”
The Italian Vini Zabu-KTM team said on Twitter: “In the hotel the local authorities are testing all the riders and the staff members #Coronavirus.”
The Astana team said they were awaiting official communication from the race organizers.
Media reports said the official race hotel in Abu Dhabi was sealed off late on Thursday.
A report in Cycling News said riders, staff and journalists are not allowed to leave pending health checks.
The new coronavirus COVID-19 has infected over 80,000 people and killed nearly 3,000, mostly in China.
Froome was making his comeback from injury at the race that started on Sunday.
The last two stages had been scheduled to be staged from Al Ruwais to Al Mirfa (158 km) on Saturday and Al Maryah Island to Abu Dhabi (127 km) on Sunday.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar