PARIS (AP) – After weeks of hoping that the Tour de France could go as planned despite the coronavirus pandemic, the world’s most famous cycling race has finally been added to the list of canceled sporting events.
It can still happen this year, but it is clear that the three-week race will not start on June 27 in the city of Nice on the Riviera as planned.
French President Emmanuel Macron actually made the decision in his speech to the nation on Monday when he announced that all public events with a large crowd were canceled until at least mid-July.
“Since it is now impossible for the Tour to start on its scheduled date, we are consulting (the International Cycling Union) to try to find new dates,” race organizers said on Tuesday.
The last time the Tour did not take place was in 1946, the nation still emerging from World War II. He was also arrested during the First World War.
While the biggest cycling event could be deleted, the organizers are discussing potential future dates. New projects could be announced before the end of April following discussions between the organizer Amaury Sport Organization and the Union Cycliste Internationale.
Organizing the race without legions of fans on the roadsides and mountain passes of France – an idea previously proposed by the French Minister of Sports, Roxana Mărăcineanu – is not something that the organizers are likely to favor.
Millions of fans watch the race each year in a festive atmosphere in many regions. This year’s event includes 21 stages, the longest of which covers 218 kilometers (135 miles). Thousands of police officers are needed to keep the crowds under control and help negotiate a safe passage for the riders.
Riders must also be physically ready to tackle the grueling race – and be able to attend. After weeks of confinement, competitors would probably need several more weeks to get in shape.
The borders should also be opened, so that both runners and last year’s winner – Colombian Egan Bernal – can travel to France.
Juggling the cycling calendar is also tricky due to the various races planned throughout the season, including the Giro d’Italia and the Spanish Vuelta.
The Giro, which had been scheduled for May, was canceled late last month. The Spanish race, which also belongs to ASO, is still on the program from August 14 to September 6.
If the Tour de France were to be held after the Spanish Vuelta in September, it could conflict with the reprogrammed Roland-Garros tennis tournament. The Grand Slam clay court tournament at Roland Garros, normally at the end of May and June, has been postponed from September 20 to October 4.