Paris (AFP) – The Tour de France by bike should have embarked from the Mediterranean city of Nice this weekend, but the delay of two months on the coronaviruses will accentuate the drama of a “single edition”, told the AFP the race organizer, Christian Prudhomme.
Breathtaking views, noisy motorhome villages straddling the mountain peaks and charming French castles will always be on the menu for viewers around the world, as will the party atmosphere for millions of roadside fans when the race starts at the end of August. .
While the French custom of kissing as a greeting will be prohibited and social distancing will still be practiced, the delay has upset the format by adding a dose of the unknown to an already sharp three-week race.
The proof of the national popularity of the race can be detected in the fact that France quickly ended its rugby and football seasons, but the general and political will to continue cycling saw the Tour survive.
The epic of the 107th edition will now embark on the famous Promenade des Anglais in Nice on August 29 and will culminate in a dazzling race around the paved Champs Elysées in Paris on September 20.
“It will be as unique as it is unique,” promises Prudhomme of what was already an enticing route through the five French mountain ranges.
“A tour never started so late in the year. It is always in summer, but outside of school holidays, “said Prudhomme, who estimates that there could be fewer than the 12 million fans on the road.
“The heat should be less intense,” he said of the sizzling temperatures that facilitate the carnival atmosphere at the roadside and at the top of the hills in July.
“There will also be more wind,” he said, adding to the chaos caused by crosswinds on the race across some of France’s vast wheat plains, which have long since been harvested.
“There will be fewer fans, but it will always be a celebration,” he said.
– Bernal, Froome or Thomas –
The coronavirus hit advertising and Prudhomme said that the advertising caravan that precedes the passage of the race, throwing goodies at the crowds who gather not only for a fleeting glimpse of the peloton, but also the possibility of caps, shirts, candies and other free promotional gifts, will be 40 percent smaller.
The season reshuffle has put even more emphasis on the Tour this year and every big gun in the armory is primed for Le Grande Boucle.
Team Ineos is expected to line up the last three winners as co-captains Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal.
Defending champion Bernal is training in his homeland where he has told local media that he does not want to win.
“If I am able to win, I will not sacrifice my chances,” said the 23-year-old Colombian, who would have angered Froome and announced that he was about to change teams.
It could all be a smoke and mirrors strategy to dissipate Bernal’s heat, and Ineos’ main rival Jumbo also named three co-captains.
Some would say that the fact that the Tour is even run is a victory in itself and after barbecues and beers through the five mountain ranges of the Alps, the Massif Central, the Pyrenees, the Jura and the Vosges, the winner will emerge at wonderfully named ‘La Planche des Belles Filles’ (bench of beautiful girls).
In October, Bernal’s jaw dropped when the final of the difficult road was revealed, while next to him, Froome, quadruple champion, let out a smile, seeing the scene of his narrow triumph of 2012 at the top from the steep summit which this year hosts a penultimate day. against the watch.
Anyone who emerges from sunflowers and castles wearing the yellow jersey at the top of La Planche des Belles Filles, they will have won one of the most anticipated Tours of their 107-year history.