You have questions about the 2020 Tour de France, and we have answers and educated opinions. Our veteran reporters, Andrew Hood and James Startt, are fielding your biggest inquiries each day in this Active Pass roundtable column. Today, we have a question about the September weather, the COVID-19 controls, and what we know about the looming Col de la Loze.
OK, let’s get to your questions!
I bet the weather is more comfortable this time of year to race in, what do you think?
Andrew Hood @eurohoody: The weather has been an interesting factor — overall it’s cooler, and getting cooler. The trees are changing colors in the mountains, and the sun is lower in the sky, creating different shadows on the road. It will be interesting in the Alps, because weather can turn fast at altitude.
James Startt: So far so good, in relative terms. We haven’t had the extreme heat that you can have in July, but we have have had some extreme rains, and the weather in the mountains can turn fast. I’d say it is still too early to tell!
Finally, TDF heard me yelling at my TV! Put on your masks! It got better on stage 8 but why are the gendarmes not enforcing mask compliance with the spectators?
Andy: They’ve been doing as much as they can to promote wearing masks. Several cars are up ahead of the race handing out masks to fans and encouraging everyone to wear them. It seems people think it is safer outdoors and get caught up in the moment, so they might let their guard — and masks — down.
James: Well, I guess they could try to apply the €135 fine that you get if you walk around certain neighborhoods in Paris without a mask. But there are literally thousands of people out on the roads and comparatively few gendarmes. There are essentially 100 gendarmes in the race bubble but their priority is securing the race route. And there are other local police on the roadside each day, but again their job is to secure the many crossroads and intersections that a typical stage crosses. You cannot put a gendarme behind every fan after all. In addition, the Tour distributes thousands of masks each day and numerous advance vehicles announce that need to wear masks. So I think that the race organizers are doing a decent job really.
There’s a lot of talk about the Col de la Loze on stage 17. What do you know about this climb and could it decide the race?
Andy: I think that it will decide the winner. The climb is so hard, so long, and so late in the race that anyone who has wings there can really make up some differences. Riders will be cracking, so anyone off the front can gain big amounts of time. The individual time trial should decide the final podium, but I think the winner will be crowned on Loze. It’s essentially a paved over ski run, so steep!
James: There are so many places where this race could be decided. How about the Puy Mary? That’s going to be a grueling stage. And then there is the final time trial to le Planches des Belles Filles. There is actually a very decent chance the race could be decided on the final time trial for the first time since 1989.
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