The WorldTour closes a break of 139 days

World cycling, at a standstill since the last Paris-Nice stage, on March 14, resumes its thread this Saturday with the Strade Bianche in Italy and the first French race of the summer, the Route d’Occitanie.

World cycling, at a standstill since the last Paris-Nice stage, on March 14, resumes its thread this Saturday with the Strade Bianche in Italy and the first French race of the summer, the Route d’Occitanie.

(ER with AFP) – For nearly five months, the peloton chomped on the brakes. The runners spent most of their time on a home trainer and then, around mid-May for the most part, returned to training outdoors.

The first victim of Covid-19, the Strade Bianche race, on the overheated Tuscan dirt roads in the heart of summer, therefore marks the return of the WorldTour. “It is a message of hope that comes from Siena, not only for cycling but for all sport. We are back, life is here ”, declared UCI President David Lappartient in the Gazzetta dello Sport.

Just one month before the pelotons are back, the nine Luxembourg professionals are intensively preparing for the recovery. Overview of the program that awaits everyone in the coming weeks.

From March 7 to August 1, the date has changed but not the program. Before arriving in the superb Piazza del Campo in Siena after 184 kilometers, the riders will have suffered on the 11 sectors (63 km) of “sterrati”, the whitewashed dirt roads that give the race its name.

And under brutal heat (up to 37 degrees in the afternoon), they will have faced the flat roads of Tuscany and the dreaded 16% of Via Santa Caterina, just before the finish, where Julian Alaphilippe had made the difference to win last year. But even more than the heat, the big variable will be the total uncertainty weighing on the states of form of each other after nearly five months without competition.

“Honestly, that’s a big question mark. I feel good and I think I have prepared myself as well as possible. But it’s the race that will speak. You can walk as hard as you want in training, everything is different in the race, ”Vincenzo Nibali explained this week.

Alaphilippe, he will find himself defending his two most beautiful Italian successes of 2019 in quick succession, with the Strade Bianche then Milan-Sanremo from next Saturday. But with a schedule that prompts him to look to the Tour de France and beyond to the World Championships and the September-October classics, the French puncher may be a little behind.

Second in Siena last year, Fuglsang (Astana) could be a candidate, like Sagan and Schachmann (Bora), Van Avermaet (CCC), often placed, or Benoot (Sunweb), winner in 2018. But all eyes will be on Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), third of the last two editions, and towards the Van der Poel attraction. For Van Avermaet, the young Dutchman is even “the favorite”.

Ries at the start of the first post-containment race in France

Alongside the Italian event, the French public will also find the atmosphere of a cycling race with the Route d’Occitanie which welcomes some of the Tour’s favorites (Bernal, Froome, Pinot or even Bardet) which will be competing exceptionally. this year from August 29 to September 20.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 14, 2019 France's Julian Alaphilippe, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey (C) rides in the pack during the ninth stage of the 106th edition of the Tour de France cycling race between Saint-Etienne and Brioude. - The Tour de France is not only a French monument, but also the economic heartbeat of professional cycling itself and analysts fear heavy consequences if the coronavirus crisis forces its cancellation. An announcement is expected this week on either a postponement or an outright cancellation of the 21-day extravaganza that is currently scheduled to start in Nice on June 27. (Photo by JEFF PACHOUD / AFP)

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 the summer, according to the new dates formalized Wednesday by the International Cycling Union. (UCI).

It will be for these leading riders to accumulate days of racing as the big deadline of the season approaches, turned upside down by covid-19. The last winner of the Tour de France, Egan Bernal has not pinned a bib since his Tour of Colombia at home on February 16 …

Sole Luxembourg representative departing from Saint-Affrique, Michel ries will be responsible for supporting its two leaders Richie Porte and Bauke Mollema until Tuesday. A little taste of the Grande Boucle since the third stage, the most mountainous on Monday, offers an arrival at the top of the Col de Beyrède after the climbs of the Port de Balès and the Col de Peyresourde, theaters of the 8th stage of the Tour, on the 5 September.


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