Coronavirus: Prolonged Confinement, the Tour de France Will Not Take Place in July

Tour de France
A stage of the Tour de France 2019 in Tignes (Savoie) on July 26, 2019.

With the new announcements from Emmanuel Macron, the hope of seeing the Tour de France take place on the scheduled dates has flown away. The organizers are looking for a new date.

Research new date: the postponement of the Tour de France, made inevitable by the announcement of Emmanuel Macron, Monday 14th April, of the extension of the confinement until May 11th, 2020, poses a major question mark for an event confronted for the first time in such a situation but its organizers remain silent for the moment.

During his speech, the president announced that large gatherings will be banned “at least until mid-July”.

Organisers to decide

Scheduled from June 27th to July 19th, the Tour de France enters the time zone of prohibited gatherings (until mid -July). The riders, who still have to remain confined, could not have been prepared in time for a grand start set less than two months (the deadline set by Tour Director Christian Prudhomme) after their first outing.

Questioned on the subject Tuesday morning, the Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner pronounced the word “uncertainty” . “It is up to the organizers to analyze their ability to organize this, to postpone it,” he said on France Inter , returning the ball to ASO (Amaury Sport Organization), the organizer of the event.

ASO has not yet taken a position. Behind the scenes, the organizers consulted local elected officials. Several of them confirmed it to AFP and to various media. Without fixing until now the precise day for the announcement of a decision on the subject.

The different hypotheses

departure from the big loop at the end of July as has often been mentioned? The hypothesis, which has the simplicity of the obvious, has however against it the proximity of the green light given by Emmanuel Macron to rallies, the difficulty of placing a preparatory race such as the Dauphiné before the start of the Tour, but also the problem posed by the limited hotel capacity in tourist places (such as Charente-Maritime) during the first half of August.

departure in mid-August for an arrival at the end of the first week in September? The previous complications would go away but the dates are already those of the Vuelta, another Grand Tour which is also organized by ASO. Except that the Tour is the cornerstone of the calendar, in the opinion of all stakeholders in cycling.

A postponement in September? The health situation would then probably be improved but that would be to forget the scope of the Tour, much more than a cycle race. Synonymous with summer holidays, the party is inseparable from the public to the point that the hypothesis of the camera, a race without audience, has died out by itself.

Read also: Coronavirus: the Tokyo Olympics are postponed to July 23, 2021

The 2020 edition of the Tour de France disrupted by the Covid-19.
The 2020 edition of the Tour de France disrupted by the Covid-19. (© Illustration / AdobeStock)

Danger or not?

Uncertainty leads everyone to express themselves on the subject, especially as the Tour, the peak of the cycling season, is above all essential to the economic balance of their sport. ” It is very simple. If the Tour does not take place, teams could disappear, runners and members of management would find themselves without work, “summed up AFP Marc Madiot, the manager of the Groupama-FDJ team who is also the President of the National Cycling League.

The riders are the first convinced. “I obviously hope we can race on the Tour: for me, my team, the sport and all the fans,” said the 2019 winner, the Colombian Egan Bernal. “Obviously, there are more important things to settle first but as soon as there is no more danger and when we are ready to move on, we would love the Tour to take place”, said his predecessor to the prize list, the Welshman Geraint Thomas.

Welsh cyclist Geraint Thomas and Colombian Egan Bernal on the podium of the Tour de France in Paris on July 28, 2019.
Welsh cyclist Geraint Thomas and Colombian Egan Bernal on the podium of the Tour de France in Paris on July 28, 2019. (© AFP / Archives / Marco Bertorello)

“As soon as there is no more danger”? This is the problem that arises for an event that attracts 10 to 12 million spectators on the roadsides each summer and generates the daily displacement of some 4,500 people. Even if voices were heard in the medical community for a Tour outfit during the summer.

“The people who stay on the side of the roads to see the runners pass do not represent a danger”, estimated the Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst, Saturday with the Flemish television channel Sporza.

“On the other hand, social distancing is more problematic when departing from and arriving at stages, in VIP tents.”

For French emergency physician Patrick Pelloux, who spoke at Francetvsport, “it is conceivable that the Tour de France will take place”. The significance of the event? “It would be a symbolic return of France. 

Read also: Coronavirus: the Roland-Garros tournament postponed to September

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