Andrew Hood | European Editor
If the coronavirus changed anything about racing, it’s how the peloton looks before and after the race. Thankfully, the “during” has largely remained unchanged. It’s everything from the start villages to the sign-in ceremony, the after-race podium protocols and how close fans and media can get that’s changed. And until there is a proven treatment for COVID-19, it’s likely to stay this way for a while.
At the Vuelta a Burgos, fans were required to wear face masks and apply hand sanitizer before being allowed into a fenced-off area at the start. At Strade Bianche, officials went even further, and closed off Siena’s emblematic central square Piazza del Campo to any fans at all.
The team bus area, which is usually packed with fans and media trying to get a glimpse of their racing heroes, will be completely sealed off. Fans will see limited access to climbs, and the publicity caravan will be halved.
A whole myriad of health controls introduced by teams assure that riders are monitored 24 hours a day for symptoms. Temperatures are taken before each race, and riders head to the start line wearing masks.
It’s all part of cycling’s new reality: mask up to race up. At least once the race is on, the masks can be taken off.