For the first time since the end of the Second World War, the Tour de France will not take place in July. In a press release published on Wednesday and following a meeting between the International Cycling Union (UCI) and representatives of the peloton, the organizers of the Great Loop, initially scheduled from June 27 to July 19, formalized the postponement from August 29 to September 20. The move became inevitable following announcements made on Monday by President Emmanuel Macron, who banned large rallies “At least until mid-July” to stem the coronavirus pandemic.
“The latest tour in history”
“We first imagined a delay for the beginning of August, we never planned anything on July, but with the intervention of Professor Xavier Bigard (UCI referring doctor), we thought we had to go as far as possible, specifies Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour. It took absolutely two months for the riders before the start of the Tour: a big month on any training (a first release from containment is planned for May 11), and then a few weeks with at least one reference test. We therefore agreed on these dates, from Saturday August 29 to Sunday September 20, namely the latest in history. “
The Tour will follow in broad outline the route initially planned during the three weeks of racing. Some modifications could be made by then, but the stage cities will remain the same: the peloton will start well from Nice on August 29, will see its queen stage arrive at the top of the Col de la Loze on September 16, and the counter the decisive watch between Lure and La Planche des Belles Filles will take place as planned three days later, on the 19th, for an arrival in Paris on the 20th. Exceptionally organized outside school holidays, the event should attract a little less people. “But it will only be temporary, and the TV audiences will always be there: I have no fear about the return on investment of this Tour”, says Marc Madiot, Groupama-FDJ training manager and director of the National Cycling League.
What about Dauphiné, Roubaix and Vuelta?
Will the global health crisis allow all the foreign champions, including the defending champion, the Colombian Egan Bernal, to line up at the end of August at the start of the Great Loop? “We wishsaid Prudhomme. The sequence of the Tour over three weeks with behind the World Championship (September 20-27), on a very hard circuit, the hardest for twenty years, will be enough to get excited even if the season is considerably shortened. “ Will the Critérium du Dauphiné, a preparatory race supposed to be held from May 31 to June 7, be postponed to early August? “This is part of the discussions, it has not yet been ratified”, reply the organizers.
This postponement causes whatever happens the postponement of the Vuelta, which was to start from Utrecht on August 14. This will have to be repositioned in the second part of a season which promises to be extremely dense, where the Giro (9-31 May) and the Monuments already postponed (Milan-San Remo, Tour des Flandres, Paris-Roubaix and Liège -Bastogne-Liège) will also try to make a place for themselves.