Giro d'Italia hit by first COVID-19 case as Clément Russo leaves race

 Clément Russo (Arkéa-Samsic) is out of the Giro d'Italia after coming down with COVID-19
Clément Russo (Arkéa-Samsic) is out of the Giro d'Italia after coming down with COVID-19
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Following a spate of COVID-19 positives in the lead-up to the race, the Giro d'Italia has its first in-race positive ahead of stage 6 in Napoli.

Arkéa-Samsic announced on Thursday morning that their rider, Clément Russo, had tested positive for the virus and wouldn't continue in the race.

The Frenchman was making his Giro debut along with many of his teammates as Arkéa-Samsic participate in the race for the first time in their history.

"Clément Russo, tested positive for COVID-19, will not start the 6th stage of the Giro d'Italia," Arkéa-Samsic announced via Twitter. "Good recovery Clément."

Russo had been sharing a room with team leader Warren Barguil at the race.

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The 31-year-old has himself come down with the virus in recent weeks, falling ill at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The team will no doubt be hoping that his recent exposure to COVID-19 will have provided some immunity.

"When your friend and roommate is DNS," Barguil wrote on Twitter with a crying face emoji. "Courage, Clem."

Russo's positive follows in the wake of numerous positive cases in the peloton running from Liège, throughout the Tour de Romandie, and in the week leading up to the Giro.

Jumbo-Visma trio Jos Van Emden, Robert Gesink, and Tobias Foss all missed the start due to the virus, as did Trek-Segafredo's GC man Giulio Ciccone, Gino Mäder (Bahrain Victorious), and Henri Vandenabeele (Team DSM).

Arkéa-Samsic saw two of their riders, Kévin Vauquelin and Andrii Ponomar, among multiple in the peloton falling ill with COVID-19 at Romandie.

The squad, racing in the WorldTour for the first time this season following promotion from the ProTeam ranks, has enjoyed an encouraging start to the Giro. Barguil was in the break on the first mid-mountain stage to Lago Laceno on Tuesday, even if he was caught by the peloton on the final climb as Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroën) went on to take the win.

David Dekker, a newcomer to the team for 2023, has provided their best result so far.

The Dutchman, who moved from Jumbo-Visma, took second behind Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious) on the second stage to San Salvo. He was 11th on stage 5 to Salerno but was caught in Mark Cavendish's crash after crossing the finish line.

Barguil and Alan Rious were both caught in a crash earlier in the final, too. All three riders will continue in the race on stage 6, however, with the flat finish providing another opportunity for Dekker to mix it up with the other sprinters.

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