In an address to the nation, Macron extends the lockout period for France until May 11 with only a gradual lifting of measures after that if the incidence of COVID-19 decreases.
Schools, restaurants, cafes, cinemas and other recreational activities will remain closed until May 11 and will face new rules to limit the spread of the virus when they reopen. The COVID-19 virus has killed more than 14,000 people in France.
Other sporting events have been postponed or canceled but the Tour de France has an extremely symbolic value for France. It is also the economic cornerstone of men’s professional cycling, generating around 70% of the visibility and value of team sponsors. A number of teams have already reduced or postponed the salaries of riders due to the effects of COVID-19 on the world economy and on team sponsorship. They hope that the Tour de France can take place a little later in 2020.
According to Marca, an agreement between the three organizers of the Grand Tour means that the Tour de France has priority in the post-COVID-19 calendar, the Vuelta a España going back to September and the Giro d’Italia in October.
The three races would last another three weeks, suggesting that daytime classics and other races should adapt to the Grand Tours, with possible overlaps. Depending on the situation in the different countries, certain races could take place from August, with riders having at least one month to train on the open road and a shorter stage race used to prepare for the Tour de France.
ASO owns both the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España, via the company Unipublic, and it is therefore likely that an agreement on the dates benefiting the two races can be found. The gentleman’s agreement between the organizers of the Grand Tour seems to be a way of preventing the Vuelta a España and the Giro d’Italia from being reduced to just two weeks.
“They will be 3-3-3, never 3-2-2 or 3-3-2,” said Mauro Vegni, director of the Giro d’Italia. Marca, following similar comments from the boss of the Vuelta a España, Javier Guillén.
However, the Great Departure from Vuelta in the Netherlands seems threatened due to the additional logistical problems. The Giro d’Italia has already confirmed that this year’s race will not start in Hungary, with additional stages in southern Italy likely to compensate for the loss of the first three stages.
Meanwhile, in the Vuelta (which the organizer shares with the Tour -ASO-), they are calm because, for the moment, September will remain “their” month, although the departure from the Netherlands in August is not so clear.
The key for everyone is to “save” the Tour and, once the date has been set as it seems now, to fix the other two big ones with at least a week’s difference between the end of one and the start of the ‘other.
ASO declined to comment on its plans for the Tour de France but has reportedly set a May 15 deadline to accommodate race dates.