March 19, 2020 / 3:07 PM / in 17 days

Swiss pro rider swaps race suit for doctor's uniform on coronavirus frontline

FILE PHOTO: Signs are seen on a medical screening tent for coronavirus testing outside the University Hospital of Geneva (HUG), in Geneva, Switzerland March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy/File Photo

(Reuters) - Swiss professional cyclist Elise Chabbey has swapped her race suit for her doctor’s uniform following the shutdown of the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 26-year-old Bigla-Katusha rider, recently qualified as a doctor, would usually have been preparing for the Spring classics, but instead is working as an intern at Geneva University Hospital.

“Doing nothing is really not in my nature,” Chabbey told the team’s website. “What’s happening is unprecedented, and given the severity of the situation, I feel I have to do something.”

With infections rising daily in Switzerland, one of the worst-hit countries in Europe, Chabbey said she was in the frontline dealing with patients suffering from COVID-19.

“This week I had nine patients, and we anticipate there will be larger numbers coming to us over the next few days.”

With no end to the crisis in sight, Chabbey, like every other professional cyclist, has no idea when she will be racing again. She said she hoped that the world road championships in Switzerland will go ahead as planned in September and would be ready when the time comes.

“When this crisis has abated, I’ll know that I tried to do my part, and I hope I’ll be proud of that,” she said. “I think that doing this now will actually help me mentally.

“When racing eventually commences again, I’ll be more than ready and motivated to join my team mates back on the road.”

Nearly 4,000 people in Switzerland have been infected with the coronavirus, and 36 have died.

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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