George Bennett. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

MORZINE (France): New Zealand Georges Bennett became the defending champion’s second teammate Tadej Pogacar to leave the race after testing positive for Covid-19, his United Arab Emirates team announced on Tuesday.
“On Monday he was tested according to the team’s internal protocols and returned a positive result. This was confirmed by a PCR test,” the UAE said in a statement.
“Therefore he will not start today,” said team doctor Adrian Rotunno.
Last Saturday, Vegard Stake Laengen also withdrawn with Covid-19, meaning Pogacar’s squad is now down to six riders for a grueling week in the Alps.
Pogacar leads the general classification, 39 seconds ahead of Dane Jonas Vingaard.
Tuesday’s 10th stage is a 148 km mountain hike to Megève.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Australian Luke Durbridge was also withdrawn after testing positive for Covid-19, his Bike Exchange-Jayco team said.
“Unfortunately Luke Durbridge tested positive for Covid-19 this morning. Durbridge has very mild symptoms and will not start Stage 10 today,” the Australian team said in a statement.
Bennett is the fifth rider to leave the race with a positive Covid-19 test since the start on July 1.
All runners had been tested on Sunday evening and all tests had come back negative.
Last year, if two members of a team tested positive for Covid, the whole outfit would be sent back, which is not the case in this edition.
The question of whether a rider who tests positive can remain in the race is decided following a meeting between the race, the International Cycling Union (OPC) and team doctors, depending on the rider’s viral load.

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