Tour de France Postponed amid Pandemic, no new dates set
After weeks of holding out hope the Tour de France would be ready to plow ahead as planned despite the coronavirus pandemic, the world’s most famous cycling race was finally added to the list of sporting events called off.
It may still happen this year, but it’s clear the three-week race won’t be starting on June 27 within the Riviera city of Nice as scheduled.
French President Emmanuel Macron effectively made that call in his speech to the state on Monday when he announced that each one public events with large crowds are canceled until at least mid-July.
“Given that it’s now impossible that the Tour starts at its planned date, we are consulting with the (International Cycling Union) to undertake and find new dates,” race organizers said Tuesday.
The last time the Tour wasn’t held was in 1946, with the state still emerging from war II. It was also stopped during WWI. While cycling’s biggest event might be scrapped altogether, organizers are discussing potential later dates.
New plans could be announced before the end of April following discussions between organizer Amaury Sport Organization and the International Cycling Union. Holding the race without legions of fans on the roadsides and mountain passes of France — a thought previously proposed by French Sports Minister Roxana Mărăcineanu — isn’t something organizers are likely to favor.
Millions of fans watch each year’s race during a festive atmosphere across many regions. This year’s event has 21 stages, with the longest of them stretching 218 kilometers (135 miles). Thousands of police officers are needed to keep crowds under control and help negotiate safe passage for riders.
Riders, too, need to be physically ready to tackle the grueling race — and able to actually attend it. After weeks of confinement, competitors would likely need several more weeks to urge into racing shape.
Borders would need to be open, too, so racers like last year’s winner — Colombian rider Egan Bernal — can visit France. Juggling the cycling calendar is additionally tricky due to the varied races scheduled throughout the season, including the Giro d’Italia and therefore the Spanish Vuelta.
The Giro, which had been set for May, was called off late last month. The Spanish race, which is also owned by ASO, is still on the schedule for August 14 to September 6.
If the Tour de France were to be held after the Spanish Vuelta in September, it could clash with the rescheduled French Open tennis tournament. The clay-court slam tournament at Roland Garros, normally in late May and June, has been pushed back to Sept. 20-Oct. 4.
Courtesy: Associated Press