The 2020 Tour de France has begun, which means there are a lot of pressing issues to be resolved each day and a lot of holds to be debated. Our seasoned journalists, Andrew Hood and James Startt, answer your biggest requests every day in this column of the Active Pass roundtable.
To submit your own question, see the digital form at the bottom of the page. We want to hear from you, so please send us any request you want answered.
OK, let’s get to grips.
Do you feel like different teams are approaching COVID-19 protocols with different levels of commitment, concern, or precaution? – Drew
Andrew Hood @eurohoody: I would say most teams take this very seriously. Each team knows that their future may well depend on the success of the Tour, which means following health rules and protocols. The rumor is already circulating among the teams that the French government will consider an entire team in “direct contact” if the staffs or the riders do not wear a face mask as required. They can only remove their masks at meals, inside their room or while racing.
James begins: I think they all handle it with the utmost care. All teams, large and small, are all concerned about health conditions. They also fear being kicked out of the race. We wavered between the rules – two staff or two runners, at one point does a team have so many cases that they get kicked out of the race? ASO came out and said two cases and you came out and then they backed off. Now the French government is coming back to say no, two cases and the team is gone. As a result, all the teams are very, very diligent.
If one were to plan a first visit to the Tour from the United States (next year of course), are there any good resources to help plan a particular stage to watch and, basically, plan a trip? ? – Pat
Andy: I’m sure there are some good blogs out there from people who have taken the Tour. After having followed the Tour myself several times, I suggest that you bring a bicycle. Not only is it already more fun, but a bike will give you a lot of flexibility to get to areas where cars aren’t allowed. Also bring a meaty lock if you want to leave your bike unattended. Also, unless you want to follow the entire Tour, pick an area, find a nice base of operations, and complete a few stages. One idea would be to target a start one day, and an finish the next day, and plan for at least one of the big major peaks. It is a unique day adventure in sport.
James: It all depends on how you want to travel. There are a lot of travel agencies out there that get people to follow the course and watch the race go by. Or, you can just come. You can get a copy of VeloNews magazine or see on the Internet to see where the race is going, and cut it. You can arrive early and watch the trailer go by and have a picnic. It’s honestly not that hard to do. You just need to be able to recover and certainly rent a car. If in doubt, come to Paris and watch it on the Champs-Élysées.
Imagine that I locked you in a chair and administered truth serum to you. Does Chris Froome win a fifth Tour de France title? – Dave
Andy: Haha, well, I would say he certainly has a better chance at Israel Start-Up Nation, where he will be the absolute leader of the team, than at Ineos Grenadiers, where Bernal is in the process of becoming the new boss. If this truth serum also gave us a chance to figure out Froome’s potency numbers, I might give a more definitive answer. If Froome has fully recovered physically from his accident, I would say yes.
James: Not this year! Already? I do not think so. I think it’s over. I think he might be able to win another big lap, but changing teams so late in his career, and still struggling to come back, the road is so long and precarious. I think he’s going to have to change his attention a bit. He might be able to get a Giro or a Vuelta, especially if there are time trials and he can start over. But to win another Tour? It’s going to be very hard.
What is your favorite edition of the Tour de France and why? – Susan
Andy: For personal reasons, my first tour dates back to 1996. Everything was so new and exotic. And that was long before the days of GPS, iPhones, and Twitter, so every day was like going to college racing a bike. For a roller coaster of crazy news, the 1998 tour was off the charts, an everyday scandal. No one even likes to mention his name anymore, but Armstrong’s first victory in 1999 was pretty amazing. And the race over the last few years has been very good. Thomas’ victory in 2018 was quite entertaining because it was so unexpected.
James: It was maybe the last one I didn’t do, it was in 1989. I missed the incredible eight second race between Fignon and LeMond on the Champs. So after that, I should probably say 2011, Cadel’s win. There was so much suspense. There was the turn of Thomas Voeckler. There was no dominant team and I like that. I’m really bored with the dominant teams. I know that for the history of the Tour, having a great team that does not dominate and that has a dynasty makes it easier to write history. I much prefer the Small Tours, where there is a lot of suspense and no dominant team, and a lot of suspense and changes of leader. This is what we saw in 2011.
If you have any ideas on how to do this, please feel free to email me at [email protected]
Fill out my Wufoo form!