French cycling teams plan to organize Tour de France in August

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PARIS – Cycling teams prepare for the Tour de France to be held in August rather than July, after French President Emmanuel Macron said major public events would be halted until mid-July while the country was fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marc Madiot, president of the French cycling league and director of the Groupama-FDJ cycling team, said that Macron’s comments, which included extending measures to slow the coronavirus epidemic, paved the way for the holding of the tour in August.

“Based on what he told us, it seems conceivable to hold the Tour de France sometime in August,” he told Reuters.

The French newspaper Le Dauphine Libere announced Tuesday that the tour would take place from August 29 to September 7. 20.

Thousands of fans gather along the road every day to watch the Tour and urge the riders during the three-week race, which poses the risk of spreading the virus further among the public and cycling teams.

An email seen by Reuters on Saturday and sent to the editors of the official Tour program showed that the organizers were focusing on postponing rather than canceling the race, which was scheduled from June 27 to July 19.

The organizers, who made no immediate comments on Tuesday, told the German news agency dpa that the dates originally announced would not be possible and that they were working to postpone the event.

NECESSARY TRAINING

After the postponement of the Euro 2020 football finals and the Tokyo Olympic Games, the Tour de France – which usually takes place in June and July – is one of the last major sporting events not to have been officially moved this year.

Since the creation of the Tour in 1903, only the two world wars of 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 forced the organizers to cancel the race.

The head of the French cycling league has said that teams should be allowed to train outside before the end of the lockout period. Outdoor cycling has been restricted in France to fight the virus.

“Our boys need to be able to train. The longer we get stuck, the more they will need to get back in shape, “said Madiot. “People think that biking outdoors is just for a ride, but we have to be on the road for work.”

Participants said holding the Tour and avoiding a cancellation was crucial to the teams’ financial survival.

“It is not too late today,” said Vincent Lavenu, manager of the AG2R-La Mondiale team. He also thought that the Tour was likely to be postponed until August, even until the end of the month. “What is essential is that the Tour takes place,” he added.

He said sponsorship revenues from the world’s largest road racing event represent 60%, if not 70%, of the teams’ worldwide revenues.

“This is huge and essential to the survival of the teams,” said Lavenu. (Report by Michel Rose; Additional report Richard Martin; Edition by Hugh Lawson and Ken Ferris)

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