Recently, certain protective measures taken around Corona have relaxed again. This means that you may start racing again on quite a short notice, with the UCI calendar due to start racing again on quite a short notice and the first Women’s World Tour starting with the Strade Bianche on 1st August.
Which is, of course, great news.
However, the COVID virus has not yet disappeared. It is still rampant in some countries. In other countries, the virus flared up again. And there is still uncertainty around whether a second wave will be forthcoming. Therefore, it may not be that simple to get all riders comfortable with racing again, due to a fear of catching or transmitting the virus.
Racing means riding very closely with other members of the peloton, possible plane travel to reach the starting location and racing also means riders will be surrounded by more people (such as organizers, staff from other teams, spectators) and/or in larger groups.
We have been asked whether you can refuse to participate in a race. Can you be obliged by your team (employer) to get started?
Basic principle: An employee cannot just refuse to do her job, without justification, for example, if she is concerned there is real COVID-19 danger.
If the employer properly fulfills its obligations and does every reasonable possible to protect the employees against - in this case - the infection risk of the Corona virus, then the employee will simply have to carry out her work. The employer has then fulfilled his obligation to reduce all risks.
If the employee nevertheless refuses, the employer does not have to pay the salary for the period during the refusal to work (unless, of course, the employee receives and performs alternative work from the employer). The employer should explain to the employee in advance that, in the view of the employer they have taken the necessary steps and that she is well protected. They should also make it very clear, ideally in writing, that if she does not perform her work, she will not receive any wages for that period.
The refusal to work, where suitable risk mitigation steps have been taken by the employer, is at the risk of the employee.
Translated to cycling
As long as the working environment meets the requirements set by the UCI and the local authorities, you cannot simply refuse to participate in a course. So you may not have a choice whether or not to participate. If your team ensures that these COVID guidelines are sufficiently complied with, you must start when your team asks for it.
Obviously, such a hard requirement (regarding the refusal to start) is not useful and it is advisable for everyone to take into account each other's considerations.
For this reason, we advise you to start the conversation as early as possible. Your team manager can then take into account the wishes of the riders when setting up the race planning.
As a rider, indicate where your concern is. A solution may be sought. If you are afraid of flying, see if it is possible to travel in another way. If you do not want to race in a certain country, look together in which other countries you would like to race. Look for alternatives. Be open to each other's views and considerations.
Extra attention note:
Realise that the UCI, organisation and the teams put a lot of effort and money in taking protective measures against Corona and to ensure a safe environment for everyone.
Therefore a call up to every single rider to obey these COVID rules and i.e. to stay in the bubble, create your own safety bubble when not staying with the team or to keep quarantaine after leaving a country that is indicated to be of (high) risk.
You are one of the stakeholders to ensure a safe environment. We are all in this together. Take your responsibility and contribute by simply obeying the rules.