Tour de France Date Change

The Tour de France’s dates have been changed with the start pushed back two months, the plan is now to begin in Nice on Saturday 29 August and finish in Paris on Sunday 20 September. The route is unchanged. It’s just that, a date change. It buys time but all talk about the race still feels like it should be in the conditional given the public health crisis caused by Covid-19.

There’s been lots of planning behind the scenes and some ideas like holding it behind a cordon sanitaire or various proposals for moving the dates have leaked out. Race organisers ASO and the French sports ministry would be remiss if they didn’t plan, just as a transport ministry will have scenarios for when the railways reopen, and the education ministry hones plans to reopen schools. Today’s announcement is different as it’s not a leak or a whisper but the date change is formal and it’s part of a coordinated attempt in the sport to reset the calendar with the UCI announcing a wider plan to hold all grand tours and the five Monuments. But again just moving the date is no guarantee the race goes ahead, remember this.

If the Tour de France happens it won’t be the first race since the sport stopped in March. There seems to be a convention that the Tour will only go ahead if there’s been sufficient time for riders to resume training outdoors and then to bank a race or two in August, perhaps a delayed and abbreviated Critérium du Dauphiné, maybe races on the August calendar like the Vuelta a Burgos or the Tour de l’Ain go ahead, or a rescheduled Tour de Pologne happens. Some European federations are preparing for national championships on the weekend before the mooted Tour start.

Pushing back the date by two months is as late as it can get without throwing what’s left of the UCI calendar up in the air as the Tour would end on the day the World Championships start but the UCI can move the men’s TT, slated for the same day, to a slot later in the week and voilà, there’s no more clash… although for now the UCI says its schedule stands. And that’s before we see what happens with the Vuelta a España. The Vuelta is 100% owned these days by ASO but the Spanish tour is not an asset to be left in a cupboard, it is culturally and politically significant in Spain and the plan is to run the Giro d’Italia in October and the Vuelta after which could all just about work weather-wise but dates have yet to be agreed and announced.

The Tour remains the sport’s shop window, it attracts huge audiences and so what is left of the calendar is being fit around it. To illustrate the Tour’s importance, according to market research by Repucom, a “sports measurement” agency, the Tour habitually gets a bigger audience than the rest of the World Tour races combined and by some margin, even the Giro and Vuelta together deliver roughly one third of the audience the Tour gets according to a presentation seen by this blog; another report by Repucom says the Tour can account for 80% of team’s media exposure in the season. It’s for this reason the teams and their owners who might have quarrelled with ASO in the past now appear keen for the Tour to happen.

Less of this

A September Tour would feel quite different. But so do many things already, even a trip to the supermarket feels edgy. Weather-wise September can be pleasant, especially in France’s southern half where the race goes, typically warm but not hot; there’s more chance of a cold front but that can still happen in July and the probability of a snowstorm in the mountains is probably as slim as July (the high passes tend to close in November). Sunflowers would be harvested to leave fields of barren stubble but it’s the roadside fans that would be the big difference, they make the race what it is because millions are on holiday in France in July and estimates say 10-12 million come out to see the publicity caravan and race. Only the end of August is la rentrée in France, “the return” when kids go back to school, factories reopen and office workers are desk-bound again. Perhaps it’s no bad thing in terms of crowd management but it would feel, look and sound a lot more like the Dauphiné than the Tour.

More of this

Above all the big question is the anti-viral measures in place in four months’ time. If the race goes ahead because the public health authorities deem it can and surely it won’t happen like the old times. There would be new health protocols specific to the race. Presumably no team could start a rider with a temperature but can every mechanic and masseur with possible be symptoms be kept out, ditto every TV technician and each reporter? The date change is the easy bit.

There have been lots of suggestions and plans aired recently but today is different with the formal date change. But it’s just that, a date change. This buys time for the Tour but everything still feels conditional, there’s no certainty the race will happen. Yet it’s probably all the sport can do, the rest is up to the public health authorities…the coronavirus and all of us.

A September Tour de France would be strange, the huge roadside crowds that make it such a festive experience, even on TV, would be absent, leaving the race with a forlorn feel, like visiting a seaside resort out of season. Perhaps that’s helpful with the race distancing itself from the crowds and there will be protocols about hygiene and distancing. The change signals the importance of the Tour with other events slotting around it. For those making a living in the sport, a quiet Tour is better than no Tour and it might help keep several teams afloat but the outlook for many other races and squads remains insecure. Symbolically it also gives people in France something to look forward to.

64 thoughts on “Tour de France Date Change”

  1. Christian Prudhomme was interviewed at lunchtime on France Info. There was a strong impression that not only ASO and cycling interests want it to happen but also the French government and the stage towns too. The Tour is important economically and socially in France and holding it in early September would not only provide a symbol that normal life was returning, but could also prolong some tourism beyond the traditional rentrée at the start of September. September weather is often a delight too in France, even here in Lorraine. Let’s hope.

    • Yes, there was a call with all the mayors yesterday and they’ve been instrumental in the postponement (it seems this is where the news leaked out from too). Currently reading Béatrice Houchard’s “Le Tour de France et la France du Tour” and she makes the point that a lot of mayors in France feel they and their towns and villages have been forgotten and left behind, a village might have lost its bakery, café, school, post office etc but the mayors queue up to praise the Tour, “you haven’t deserted us” they tell Prudhomme. It’s far more than a sports event and has a relationship with the population that’s totally different from any other race.

  2. While I would love to have this pandemic far enough in the rear-view-mirror for La Grand Boucle to go on in 2020 I can’t help thinking the entire season should just be scrapped.
    Keep the dates the same as planned for this year while devoting all efforts into overcoming the scourge of the coronavirus. Reschedule everything exactly one year later as the Olympic Games has done.
    A Giro d’Italia held in October would be a bad joke, I hope RCS sees the folly in that idea and considers 2020 in the same way as 1915-18 or 1943-45, even if the UCI or ASO can’t.
    There are more important things in this world than pro bicycle racing!

    • I suppose the main thing is if the economy/society has got moving again by September – perhaps, probably not to full speed – then a race can happen alongside schools being open, factories, offices working etc, there’s no need to scrap races if things can be partially resolved complete with new hygiene measures but it’s all conditional on the public health issues.

      Also things will vary from country to country and possibly by race, governments might allow a small event but refuse a big one. Also not mentioned above is when the borders are opened and to which countries, we could see Country A refusing entry to people from Country B etc. There’s a lot to watch out for.

  3. Your last sentence is the critical point I think.
    The key goal of M. Macron’s speech on Monday night was to convince the people that current confinement measures are having an effect, and that a clear strategy is in place for what happens after they are removed. Whilst the Tour may seem a bit of a “luxury” when hospitals and the social care system are being overwhelmed, it is a point of reference of “typical” French cultural life and therefore the symbolic value of it’s re-organisation should not be under-estimated.

    • “…it is a point of reference of “typical” French cultural life and therefore the symbolic value of it’s re-organisation should not be under-estimated.” could be said about Italians and the Giro, the Spanish and the Vuelta, the Belgians and DeRonde and on and on.
      Pro cycling and LeTour came back after both world wars, IMHO it can (and should) wait until this pandemic is properly dealt with as well.

  4. The struggle with everything is the lack of any clear timeframe out of this crisis other than “wait until a vaccine is developed”. Social distancing and lockdowns seem to be “flattening the curve” in most developed countries, but the latest news from Asia suggest opening everything up too quickly can cause a revival of the disease. Even a spectator-less Tour de France would be better than none given its importance to both the sport and the economy of France, but I can’t help but feel it’s too soon to tell if this date will be met.

  5. This seems to assume it’ll be under control by the autumn. But europe seems to be reactive rather than proactive, we don’t see the waves coming until they’re washing over us.

    • There are several modeling studies that show a peak epidemic from late summer to autumn / winter. A German study indicated that the more successful the current measures to suppress the virus are, the further back the peak moves. In view of these models, I cannot imagine how the tour will be carried out in this time window. That would only be possible, if the virus was really contained and there were only small local outbreaks. Even then, imagine that there is only one positive case in the peloton during the race. The event would probably have to be canceled to send all riders into quarantine. That would surely damage the image of cycling and French politics.

      I haven’t seen any data yet, but I can imagine that athletes who e.g. arrive at a mountain top finish completely exhausted and could come into contact with staff, press and guests of the race, are particularly at risk for a serious course of the disease, if they become infected. As is well knowm the immune system is partly supressed for some time by the physiological stress of a race.

  6. Logistically, is this move even possible? Hotels etc. are usually booked a long time in advance and their planned dates, while not peak holiday season, would still catch quite a few tourists. Are the facilities available for them, or will it be a fleet of campervans..? Maybe they envisage special dispensation for teams to travel to France but no-one else, so rooms are free?

    • Presumably it can be done, they’ll have done the planning etc already. I did mention above “it’s just a date change” but scrapped a paragraph explaining that this is actually very complicated with police schedules, road closures, hotel bookings and more. On the hotels point I suspect a lot of bookings made have been scrapped which frees up rooms but we could see thing change like they did in Paris-Nice where at the last moment they booked extra hotels so the teams could be more spread out rather than several in one.

    • If it is at all possible the French government will do everything it can do to make the TdF happen, it is such an important event not just for cycling but for France itself. Hotels are having such a bad time that finding free rooms come September is very unlikely to be a serious problem. The biggest issue will be continued nervousness about the state of play with the virus.

  7. With the Tour in August, what would be the plans for the Vuelta? Teams could send a squad to each, but it would be a sponsor’s disaster for the Vuelta – that said, these are strange times. Perhaps the races will create something to cheer about (I was going to say ‘bring people closer together’), and that may be the over riding factor for all.
    Part of me thinks that by August there are three aspects of the pandemic which may be a factor which mean that reduce the barriers to the Tour taking place. Firstly warm weather is ‘supposed’ to put the virus into hibernation and so is likely to be a factor (and the same might be said of July!) with a reduced number of infections. Secondly; the impact of any outbreaks might numerically reduced due to the virus impacting the majority of the vulnerable at that time, and/or the authorities manage to get a handle on things. And third; the benefit of a lockdown is no longer relevant.
    Not underestimating this virus, but there comes a tipping point when lockdown is pointless or significantly harmful to the healthy, and cannot be indefinitely in place – though whether professional sport has a place in a post-lockdown world is something I cannot fathom.

    • I’m in favour of as much sport as is possible starting as quickly as possible.
      But what strikes me about the TdF, and Giro and Vuelta to a degree too, is the sheer scale of it.
      For instance, there seems to be a general acceptance that football may return behind closed doors yet here we could have a huge international event with, potentially, millions of domestic and international visitors going round Europe. It seems a very large step to take quickly?
      How to control the crowds, the potential clash between tourism and public health.
      And if crowds are prevented from gathering en masse (though how this may be enforced is very unclear) does that not take away the very essence of the race itself?
      I don’t like the idea of a football match without the crowd but I could accept it if needs be.
      But a Tour without the people?

      • I think that spectators will be reticent to come out en masse after this epidemic. You might get ‘congregations’ at the finish line, but they will be miles away from the usual. I think the ones we saw at Paris-Nice will be somewhat more representative, in as much as it’ll be August and France won’t be on holiday (or are not expected to be). Ditto the international spectators. People will not be so keen to travel. It’s not the same as football which draws thick partisan crowds that congregate for safety and strength. It’ll be useful for authorities to gauge public reaction to these sorts of events.

  8. All great in principle, but..
    There is a fair chance that international travel will still be severely restricted for the remainder of this year.
    Belgium announced no events until September, cannot imagine it will be the only country that adopts this approach.
    Could we end up with the French organising a race that no-one can get to and riders are under cooked going into it. Not sure how great a spectacle that would be.

    • If the French football leagues resume the players abroad have been told they’ll be allowed to fly to France with travel waivers if the borders are still closed, apparently the same would apply to cyclists.

    • I sort of think the bigger picture is that it gets to go ahead at all. Its not like the TdF is reliant on gate receipts and under current restrictions (and probably reticence by the public) people are more likely to watch on TV which is a win-win for advertisers and broadcasters alike.
      I don’t think this crazy at all, only that it’s reliant on derestrictions to the current rules. It will most definitely be TdF lite.
      I think there will also be an element which will engender good: think TdF post-war. A sign of the country’s resilience and fortitude, and return to ‘normality’ of which the Tour has repeatedly been at the vanguard.

  9. Makes me laugh, a Tour behind closed doors! yea and Septembers full moon will also be held behind closed doors. Any mention of warm up races or are those being done on rollers? Doubt there will be a Tour this year whatever the puppet Macron waffles on about.

    • The behind closed doors plan was explored and rejected weeks ago by all those involved but if the race happens it’s bound to include measures to expand the distances, and the plans here involve warm-up races in August, if they don’t take place there’s a good chance the Tour won’t either.

      • Just heard this morning that “social distancing” measures in the UK will go on in some form until there is a cure for Covid-19. ( The view of prof Ferguson of Imperial College). It seems to offer difficulty after difficulty in organising a Church fete let alone the Tour.

  10. Here in Seoul the 9-to-6 commute is back to normal except that everyone is wearing face masks. It seems to give everyone a sense of security. Does it work? I don’t know for certain but there seems to be fewer (reported) cases, which might as well be due to the onslaught of spring. For whatever reason, the number of new cases is slowing down, and the return to “normalcy” is happening faster than expected. So September can be feasible for the Tour, but remember that the virus can come back strong in the fall (with the colder weather). No one can predict this virus, that’s for certain. Good health to all, and be safe!

    • There was a recent article in the journal Nature (a top science journal) that simple surgical masks significantly reduce the expulsion of droplets and microdroplets and dramatically reduce the viral load exhaled by someone who is infected. So, yes, masks are good, especially since it’s estimated that close to half the cases are spread by people who are presymptomatic or asymptomatic. They might also help somewhat for those who aren’t infected (blocking some of what they would otherwise inhale). There are also case reports indicating that social distancing is crucial and effective, especially indoors.

  11. I can’t see this working to be honest, too many risks and complications. I’m expecting no more racing this year and if there is any I will be pleasantly surprised.

  12. Daily reader of this blog-love it InRng. Cyclist who takes yearly trips and follows races on the phone or desktop. Healthcare provider on the front lines of the Covid crisis. Love the TDF, absolutely depressed some idiots think it’s a good idea to hold it. good for the economy and our spirits to have an international group of cyclists and their support teams jump on planes, stay in hotels ,interact with locals, then disperse across Europe to activate the next phase. please don’t tell me the spectacle of sport takes precedence over the health of the planet. I’ll sure be putting a smile on my face as I don my N95 and walk into the next PUI/Covid + patient knowing that somebody at the head of the peleton was practicing social distancing.

    • If the public health conditions are not improved and durably so there won’t be a race. The race is important to France but neither the health authorities nor the race would be stupid to run it if the conditions are wrong, that’s why it’s been moved back to as late a date as possible. But the sport can’t control this so it can only make delayed plans and if they don’t work then we’ll see what happens for races later this year… or in 2021.

      • Inrng, I appreciate what readers of this blog have come to expect in your replies-a well reasoned, thoughtful assessment of the facts. If only those who will ultimately make the decision had such integrity. That being said, as my wife admonishes,”email in haste, regret in leisure”. Intending no disrespect or disruption to civil discourse, I respectfully request removal of my comment. Thanks, Pat

        • I think your original comment made a very good point. This virus has spread far more widely because of countries prioritising economics over the health of their people. Holding a three-week parade around France – or any other race; or, indeed, any other sport – would be repeating the mistakes all over again, unless there are all but no cases anymore. That seems highly unlikely by August.

        • Please Inrng, do not remove this comment.
          I am also a healthcare worker and know that Patty-o is right.
          By the way Larry T is right too, quite surpringly

          • Patty-o – your viewpoint seems extra valuable since you (unlike most of us) are on the front lines of this pandemic. I’ve been saddened by the sheer volume of navel-gazing illustrated by the online cycling community in general.
            Dunno (or care) that much about other sports, but cycling needs to “get over itself” at least until this pandemic is just a bitter memory.
            Esteban – What do you mean “surprisingly”? Larry T is always right! Right? 🙂
            Stay safe everyone. Stay home. As they say here in Italy: ANDRA TUTTO BENE

      • On the one hand we are told that this race is really very important to the French people, even to the French psyche, its image of itself as a nation.

        On the other hand we are told, almost in the same breath, that if “public health conditions are not improved and durably so there won’t be a race.”

        There is an obvious problem here, an obvious conflict of political and social interest. It is in danger of not being sufficiently acknowledged. You say it would be stupid to run the race if the conditions are wrong as if that were a cast-iron guarantee in political decision-making. No politician, no public official, ever does anything stupid, especially when under pressure – right?

        • Yes the Tour is more than a sports event in France, much more so. But it’s not a salient political issue, there are few votes in making the Tour de France happen, nobody will switch to a party or a politician over this. But they’d move en masse if the wrong decisions are taken over the pandemic, healthcare etc.

          • Boris Johnson and Trump are polling well despite their massive errors. The people largely obey the largely non-critical, largely right-wing media.

    • “The planet” has been here for maybe four and a half billion years and will probably be here for another few billion. Humans have only been around for a couple of million years, at most, and we’ll be long gone by the time the planet collides with the sun.

      Let’s talk about people, in the here and now! Taking pleasure from watching a sporting event won’t make the slightest bit of difference to the health of the planet.

  13. Listening with some care to French media and the announcements from ASO and Macron, what is announced is not a firm decision but a declaration of intent. That declaration will enable hotels to be reserved, teams to start organising, and the UIC to adapt a calendar around the TdF. If conditions at (say) mid July are appropriate to it being held then it will be confirmed.

    The government want it to happen while many TdF actors (LCL, stage towns, Groupama…) are influential.

    • It’s effectively an insurance policy.

      In the event that things do improve enough that it can be run, cycling simply cannot be the only sport which is caught flat-footed and unable to organise a resumption.

      • I agree with both comments above. I read those news as a “save the date” notice, but the go-ahead will only be given if it’s safe to do so, and I doubt anyone is willing to swear that it will be.

    • Don’t worry, the race won’t go ahead without approval from the public authorities, it is all conditional on this rather than deciding to hold some kind of rogue event. The Dauphiné is likely to be a test event for the organisers and the new hygiene measures.

      • Not worrying would require having faith in the public authorities, and most countries have shown – as always – that economics is their principal concern.
        I’m certain that the UCI and ASO will have no say in this, but a government like Macron’s is very much a tool of big business, and the Tour is big business (in all sorts of ways).
        Science should be leading the decision-making, but it isn’t in many western countries.

        • 777, it wasn’t the UK govt that stopped major sporting events, it was football’s Premiersip, it was rugby’s RFU and so on.
          France deals with things differently and is completely used to centralisation of policy and decision making. The TdF announcement is their way of holding out hope for a specified time which is very significantly after their summer holiday period. It’s them telling the people not to expect their usual pattern of holidays where every Departement has its allotted time off so the beaches and bars get a steady flow of visitors stretched over the summer.

          The mayor of Plumelec has also been kicking off about the Championnats de France, saying they should not go ahead with a date change 20-23 August. This flags up the idea of some as yet unannounced UCI/Lappartient plan to hold nat champs in each country in the week before the Tour

          Oh, and it seems the #ILOVENICE signage as pictured is gone.

          • 250,000 people went to the Cheltenham racing festival. Government’s fault. Capitalists only care about money. Regardless of nationality.

  14. I’m not too fussed about moving the date of the Tour de France and by the end of summer we’ll probably all be desperate for some entertainment, but holding four of the five monuments at a different time of year seems wrong. It’s not just the history and the parcours that make these races so great but the spring weather and the sequence of the races over the year.
    It’s good to have contingency plans but as someone said above, maybe we should just accept that 2020 is a year when things aren’t going to happen. There’s a big difference between ending formal lockdown and society returning to normal at a time when most of us will still be vulnerable to CV19.

    • I say put Paris-Roubaix back until the end of November. Then maybe we’ll get a chance of rain…
      Seriously though, I agree with you. It seems a little desperate to be squeezing so many major races into less than half a season.
      Whenever I venture out to do my shopping, or when speaking to my students by video conferencing and hearing their stories, I feel that possibly the biggest threat to this reorganised season is the population of France itself. At least here in the south, lockdown regulations are manipulated, bent, stretched or just plain flouted. The government’s plans and dates for easing confinement are still a best case scenario, as far as I’m aware. If the people continue to think of themselves rather than of public health, then I could well see it all being further postponed after a summer spurt in cases, sadly.

  15. I’d be massively surprised if it went ahead at all. ASO know they’ll be in court for the rest of the decade wrangling with broadcasters and insurers over media rights payments if they don’t show that they have exhausted all avenues when it comes to completing the Tour. This is just part of that process.

  16. There’s a lot of hand wringing about this and I appreciate patty-o’s comments. But the world cannot stay locked up indefinitely. I also think that the repeated stress and work load which he is put under has perhaps put a gloomy tint on the prospects of a Tour – at this stage the proposals are a ‘Plan B’, which are likely to be in flux and maybe subject to a ‘Plan C’. The authorities are unlikely to get the tour going if it is likely to create more problems – serious hygiene protocols will be likely enforced by Tour and team. It’s in no ones interest to create a travelling pandemic. It’d be a huge disaster for the Tour and authorities alike. As mentioned above, there’s also hope the virus recedes when summer comes around, so fingers crossed that bluer skies are around the corner and things ease up.
    Important decisions will need to be made going forward which will likely require a change in attitudes to public health. As some point out, the current lockdown measures will affect generations to come and, this is not a criticism of Patty-O (thanks for all your hard work btw), but the authorities will change their approach to how Coronavirus patients are treated – one imagines that pragmatism will decide that to help ease workloads (if infection rates persist) the most vulnerable may not be receive assistance so that a health service can be run

    • yep, there is a bit of a gloomy tint on my world view at the present moment. My colleagues and I still enjoy our gallows humor banter, and conduct ourselves as “business as usual’ as much as possible. we find the moments of humor and enjoyment where possible. we suppress the knowledge that we may acquire a disease that may “lay us up for a bit”, or may be the terminal event(too gloomy?) . What’s more difficult to absorb, is the knowledge that we may bring that home to our spouses, our families, and share with them a terminal disease. I sure don’t want the world to be shut down indefinitely, not sure the Dickensian approach of “decreasing the surplus population ” is the best option. as anonymous said above, “the planet will be here long after us”. I guess I’d just like to be a part of it a bit longer(too selfish?) . if that means I don’t get a smile from this year’s Tour(but find big ones in stories of past ones), but get to enjoy a few more going forward-and get to share that joy with anonymous, and you,my friend, and Esteban, and Larry T, and the INRG community, I can live with a year off. Maybe we all will
      Don’t worry gang, the therapy’s helping and the meds will be adjusted. probably heard this one already, but here goes: Did you hear John Travolta got Corona? But he was downgraded to Saturday Night Fever. Don’t worry, he’s Staying Alive. So may we all. Stay well

    • What on Earth makes you think summer is going to suppress the virus? Do you think is cold in Turkey or
      Iran or Africa where there are 000s of cases despite low nos. of testing. I am continually amazed by how naively optimistic people can be. Less charitably I’m thoroughly depressed by how stupid people can be.

  17. This seems primarily a way to instill a little hope into the French populace and cycling fans, which is fine as far as that goes. However, I’m comfortable predicting the TdF won’t run as currently planned. Just back up from August 29. You’d need a few warm-up races in early to mid-August, which means riders would surely need to train outside beginning some time in July.

    Most countries, maybe outside of South Korea and Taiwan, have done truly minimal testing. Given the ease of transmission of the virus, the probability is that there are huge numbers of people world-wide carrying the virus. With extreme political pressure to end the self-isolation, at least in the US, the medical experts will be beaten down and things will open up sooner than medically ideal, which in turn will lead to additional waves of infection. Add in the virus deniers who have been aggressively flouting the isolation orders from the beginning. That’s a May-June timeframe. Yet the pros need to start training outside in July, as more country-wide or regional virus waves sweep here and there? I just don’t see it. But I’m all for having a Plan B and Plan C. Perhaps a few monuments could happen in late Fall.

    • You could be right. We’ll see how the virus fares in the coming months and restrictions are due to start easing in France in May, start being the operative word but this could include people being allowed to cycle outdoors. Going from this to holding the Tour is a whole other thing but the Tour is pushed back to almost as late as can be to buy time, if it’s not sufficient then hopefully it’s back in 2021.

      • Doing the Tour will require a period of full quarantine for the whole troupeau; all the riders, soigneurs, mechanics, managers, cooks, ASO-approved media and so on. They will all be under strict external medical supervision in order to show they are not taking the virus around with them.
        I’d say the only way to do this will be in one place so it might as well be a military base or a motor circuit, that kind of place with a secure perimeter and a road network inside it. Riders will be prepared in this facility over say two weeks, starting from a high base of home trainer monitoring beforehand to make selection, when riders cant risk becoming infected so each team’s own quarantine will come before that. Testing period dictates this will be at least another two weeks prior. – Riders can expect to have a pretty miserable time from around the date when the Tour usually starts.
        If the French have decided to make it happen they must have a reason; to show this will not be a ‘summer as usual’; and that means they will be super cautious about how it’s delivered. Whether the riders can cope with the regime remains to be seen.

    • The second worst thing about the coronavirus is that it seems to make everyone, including and especially those who haven’t caught it, a public health expert and somehow turns a complete layperson into an epidemiologist of note. Me, too. How else could it be?
      The sole rationale or in any case the main reason why pros aren’t allowed to train outside is to set them up as an example for the masses, to stress the severity and the urgency of the situation and the countermeasures taken and to show that not even sports heroes are exempt.
      It would have been quite possible to let the pros train; as long as they and the team staff follow the quite simple rules and maintain social isolation, they will not run any greater risk of catching or spreading the virus.
      (As a side note: cyclists in for example Sweden and Finland have continued to ride outdoors – albeit not in large groups or groups of any size – not because they have chosen to flaunt the emergency rules but simply because neither the politicians nor the public health authorities have deemed it necessary to forbid it. I’m no pro but I rode five hours today, alone, and I didn’t stop for a cafe or enter a store to buy a Coke. I passed a few fellow cyclists, but I adhered to TT rules. Sane people, responsible citizens, that’s what we cyclists are.)

      OK it’s a big step or a giant leap from single cyclists or one team in one location to a peloton moving across a country. It is indeed conceivable the whole beautiful timetable goes boom when the minor preparatory races don’t get the OK. But if ASO, UCI and indeed we all are fortunate enough to clear that hurdle in time, then I don’t see why TdF 2020 couldn’t go ahead under a state of emergency, with measures taken under every aspect of the race, measures that we haven’t even thought of yet.

      • “The sole rationale or in any case the main reason why pros aren’t allowed to train outside is to set them up as an example for the masses, to stress the severity and the urgency of the situation and the countermeasures taken and to show that not even sports heroes are exempt.”
        I guess in your case the example they’re setting doesn’t matter and you prefer to set your own example.
        We stopped riding outside when Italian national team director Davide Cassani and others suggested everyone stay inside in solidarity with their fellow citizens as the world battled this pandemic. A few Italian pros continued to train outside as it was perfectly legal even after Italy’s full nationwide lockdown went into effect (pros were exempted as training was considered work but had to carry a written declaration to this effect) but I think pretty much everyone stopped when their fellow citizens expressed displeasure with their lack of solidarity.
        When the authorities declare cycling outside just-for-fun is OK as long as you follow the social-distancing rules we’ll be back out there. Meanwhile, we’re on the rollers going on 5 weeks now.

        • “I guess in your case the example they’re setting doesn’t matter and you prefer to set your own example.”
          I deeply hope that this was just an unfortunate slip, one that you would retract the moment you thought about what you actually wrote. I don’t doubt that the sentiment you have, that of being saddened by what people do or say is genuine and heartfelt, but this quite frankly borders on the kind of insult that once upon a time demanded more than an apology.

          “When the authorities declare cycling outside just-for-fun is OK as long as you follow the social-distancing rules we’ll be back out there.”
          Which is exactly what the authorities in a number or Europeran countries, including my own and the one I currently reside in, have declared all along.

          Believe me, if it at all improved the situation cyclists in France, Italy or Spain find themselves in – or, indeed, if it made an iota of difference in the fight against Covid-19 anywhere, I’d give away my rear wheel!

          • Enough lockdown gatekeeping.
            None of us knows how this will end for us or ours. WHO experts just announced there is no proven immunity for those whose had it. There are high levels of asymptomatic infection and less than 1% capacity for testing. This is a duck shoot for the disease and we are the ducks.
            Every government is taking a different approach in its own in-country context ( or State if you’re in the US…). We had to cancel our race series in what was to be our 28th season, and I know lots of our riders are having a rough time economically but hey, it’s all just for fun and not like they or us make their living by riding, unlike the sport on here. I could go out for a ride every day, all day if I wished but it’s my choice to stay in on the trainer since accidents do still happen, but I’m recommending another in my family to get out as he lives in a small city apartment. I go shopping and to appointments with extra care. All this is only rational in the context of the lockdown where I am, which is far less strict than France,Spain or Italy despite the infection and death rates being higher here.
            What we are all talking about is the Tour and the emphasis placed on it by the French State, which is something we should be delighted about. One cycling event is an icon, a showcase, an expression of their whole country. They will invest in making the sport safe for those who take part and everyone else, and they will do it at the highest level in the national interest. Look at how many UCI events and lower do not stand a chance of ever coming back and celebrate a rock in shifting sands. Vive le Tour!

          • Please explain what compels you to boast about riding outside when so many of us either a) are not riding outside in solidarity with our fellow citizens b) couldn’t ride outside even if we wanted to? You could have easily left off your “side note” which is the target of my post.
            My complaint (for which I’m certainly NOT apologizing) isn’t really whether you are setting the kind of example you wrote about or care at all about your fellow citizens. It’s that you feel that you need to inform all of us that you are enjoying riding outside, giving a big middle finger to pretty much everyone else affected by this pandemic who is not.
            For that all I can reply is F__k you too! I put you into the same category as the flag waving, gun-totin folks in the USA currently flaunting the lockdown regulations while complaining to TV news crews about not being able to get their hair colored or purchase lawn care products. What part of the definition of pandemic do you not understand?
            Interestingly you cite Sweden as some sort of positive example but things don’t seem to be going so well there according to:
            Stay safe. Stay home or at least STFU about riding outside, OK? We’re all in this together.

          • Plurien:
            Who is gatekeeping and how?


            I’m tempted to say what kind of person it takes to view my sidenote as any kind of boast that must be rewarded with what amounts to a highly offensive personal insult. But maybe I was wrong to assume that it couldn’t be read or interpreted as anything but an illustration of how things are in some countries and could – from a strict epidemiological point of view, so to say – be also in some other countries.
            And the only reason why I brought this up was because we were talking about the Tour and the chances of it actually taking place and the things – including the possibility of pros being allowed to train outdoors – that must precede it.

            I believe I know how things are in Sweden a little better than you do and I can assure you that they wouldn’t be a tad different if every damn cyclist in the country had sat on a home trainer for the past weeks.

            Out of respect for our host I shall refrain from saying what I really think about you after your tirade, but if could say that if I said that you are a contemptible little shit it would be an understatement.

            Coronavirus turns us all into stupid, smug, self-righteous assholes. Maybe there is nothing we can do about it. But I think we could have kept this commentary section civilized.

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