The postponed Tour de France 2020 will now start on August 29, following the extension of the ban on mass gatherings by the French government until mid-July due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The biggest cycling event, won last year by Egan Bernal of the Ineos team, was originally scheduled to take place from June 27 to July 19.
“Organizing this event in the best possible conditions is considered essential given its central place in the cycling economy,” said UCI, the sport’s governing body.
Many large-scale sporting events scheduled to take place this summer have been canceled, such as Wimbledon, or postponed by a year, such as the European Football Championship and the Summer Olympics.
Quadruple winner Chris Froome is expected to return to this year’s Tour, which should start in Nice, after missing the 2019 race following a high-speed crash in which he broke his neck, thighbone, elbow, hip and ribs.
He tweeted: “The news that many of us have been waiting for. A little light at the end of the tunnel. “
The other two three-week Grand Tour races have also been postponed until the end of this year, as part of a UCI plan to organize all major cycling races this season.
The Giro d’Italia – scheduled to take place in May – and the Vuelta a Espana, originally scheduled for September, will now be contested after the world championships in September.
The championships, which will take place in Switzerland, remain in their slot from September 20 to 27, which means that the Tour de France will end on the same day as the weeklong championships begin.
This means that the road race for the Men’s World Championship will take place one week after the last day of the Tour.
The postponed “monumental” one-day races – Milan-San Remo, Liège-Bastonge-Liège, Tour des Flandres and Paris-Roubaix – “will all take place this season, on dates yet to be defined,” the statement added.
The UCI has warned that the schedule will continue to depend on the “global health situation”, agency president David Lappartient saying “we still have work to do to finalize the implementation of a fully revised schedule”.
On April 10, the UCI put the staff on leave and reduced the salaries of senior managers following the coronavirus pandemic.
The female version of the Tour, La Course by le Tour de France, was originally scheduled to take place over one day on July 19 on the Champs Elysées in Paris.
But the organizer of the ASO Tour said it would also be postponed and take place instead “during the Tour de France 2020”.
Matt Warwick, BBC Sport
As determined as the UCI is, it is difficult to see how the cycling governing body will integrate all these races this season.
It looks like officials believe the financial implications of canceling races in 2020 could be so damaging – for teams and organizers – that they will instead try to postpone all major events as far as possible.
But what is realistic in a situation as unpredictable as the coronavirus crisis is evolving? Cycling could still benefit commercially from being one of the few major sports not to cancel much of its 2020 program before next year. However, if these events – having been moved – are later canceled at a later date, there must be other financial implications.
And there is already a lot to sort out on the calendar, so when does the UCI think it will be able to register for six weeks of Grand Tour competition and five “monumental” day races between October and November , when most of Europe gets serious cold and wet?