The Tour de France at the end of summer

Departure on August 29 from Nice and arrival on September 20 in Paris: never in its history has the Grande Boucle started so late with a conclusion at the end of summer, according to the new dates officialized Wednesday by the International Cycling Union (UCI).



Departure on August 29 from Nice and arrival on September 20 in Paris: never in its history has the Grande Boucle started so late with a conclusion at the end of summer, according to the new dates officialized Wednesday by the International Cycling Union (UCI).

(AFP) – The decision came after the meeting held by ASO, the organizers of the centenary event and summit of the cycling season, with the UCI and representatives of the cycling families, teams and riders, many of whom are confined to because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Great Loop, which was to take place from June 27 to July 19, is therefore postponed for two months. Same route, except for a few details, same difficulties and same teams unless one of them should disappear in the meantime.

“It will not be a discount tour,” said its director Christian Prudhomme, who however plans to reduce the airfoil for support. “There will probably be a little fewer vehicles than in previous years,” said the director of the Tour about the advertising caravan, one of the attractions of the event which usually drains some 10 to 12 million spectators according to the figures of its organizers. If only because of foreseeable economic difficulties for companies in a country hit hard by the covid-19 pandemic which has already killed more than 15,000 people there since the beginning of March.

ARCHIV - 28.07.2019, Frankreich, Paris: Radsport: UCI WorldTour - Tour de France Rambouillet - Paris (128.00 km), 21. Etappe. Egan Arley Bernal Gomez (2.v.r.) aus Kolumbien von Team Ineos im Gelben Trikot des Gesamtführenden fährt am Arc de Triomphe vorbei. (zu dpa:

A flourishing showcase for Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), the Grande Boucle represents a French monument but also the economic lung of professional cycling. Its cancellation due to covid-19 would have serious consequences.

Huge machine that moves daily, but at different times, some 4,500 people, the Tour may have slightly fewer spectators on the side of the road. But, if it is mainly outside the school holidays, it still takes place in the summer period, at the very end. Two days after the announcement by the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron of the ban on public gatherings until mid-July, ASO sought to postpone the race as far as possible.

For an obvious health reason, said Christian Prudhomme. And also to allow the runners to prepare in better conditions, knowing that the French in particular should thus have a period of six weeks of training before them before the resumption of the first races. “Everyone needed the Tour to set their dates,” admitted the Tour director. With, as a first consequence, the displacement at the end of the season of the Vuelta, the other major national tour organized by ASO. The world championships remain on the same date (September 20 to 27) with an unchanged program. The elite race, the most prestigious of competitions, should therefore benefit from the impact of the Tour.

Die Fahrer auf den letzten 100 Metern - 6. Etappe - Mulhouse / La Planche des Belles Filles 160.5 km - Tour de France 2019 - Foto: Serge Waldbillig

The countdown is accelerating for the Great Loop whose chances of being held on the scheduled dates, from June 27 to July 19, are reduced over the days in the dramatic health context that the country is experiencing.

The UCI has set “by May 15” the establishment of the new calendar, a headache with regard to the number of races to be placed in a reduced period of time. “The Giro will compete after the Road Worlds and will be followed by the Vuelta,” said only the international federation without mentioning whether the two events could overlap. As for the national championships, they will take place the weekend of August 22 and 23. It will now remain to determine the fate of the 80th SkodaTour of Luxembourg, scheduled for it from … September 15 to 19, i.e. in the middle of the 2020 Grande Boucle …

The upset program will include the Dauphiné, another ASO race, which was to take place in early June. “It is an essential preparation test. It may be a little shorter, but it will be organized, ”said Christian Prudhomme. The horizon is more uncertain for races now affected by the frontal competition of the Tour. In particular the Classic Bretagne (Plouay) and the Canadian events (GP of Quebec and GP of Montreal).

It’s about rebuilding post-Covid-19 cycling

For cycling, however, the announced outfit of the Tour is a huge relief. Both its economic health depends on its number one event. The whole peloton is regaining hope even if it is limited to the start of Nice, on the Promenade des Anglais, to a maximum of 176 competitors. Although the health situation is still serious, Wednesday’s announcement is the first good news, important on the psychological level, to set a goal for the runners. It is doubled by the signing of an agreement between the UCI, the representatives of the riders (CPA) and the teams (AIGCP).

“We have set up a framework which will make it possible to preserve the essential rights of the riders and the staff of the teams while making it possible to take the measures necessary for the survival of the latter,” said UCI president David Lappartient, for whom he the aim is to reconstruct “post-Covid-19 cycling”.


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