Tour de France 2020

Hints of easing of ‘two-strikes’ rule ahead of Tour de France start

Teams looking for compromise on strict COVID protocol.

Teams are pressuring ASO to ease its strict “two-strike” rule for the Tour de France set to start Saturday.

Teams urged its case during a videoconference call Tuesday with Tour officials about changing a rule that could see teams ejected from the race if two riders or staffers test positive for COVID-19.

According to a report in L’Equipe, no final compromise was hatched, but one is expected after the UCI is likely to chime in.

As first reported in VeloNews, teams could face expulsion from the race if two members of its 30-person “bubble” test positive for COVID-19. Tour director Christian Prudhomme later told Reuters that would only apply if there are two positives within a seven-day period.

Sources told VeloNews teams are pressuring ASO, the Tour de France owners, to make that strict protocol only to apply to riders.

Teams are worried about the strict rules for two reasons. First, there appears to be the possibility of false positives under current testing protocols, and riders have tested positive only to return negative results in follow-up exams. A recent case involving Bora-Hansgrohe at this week’s Bretagne Classic in France only heightened concerns of a false positive.

Teams also expressed dismay that the Tour is imposing such strict rules while still allowing fans and media, which do not undergo such strict COVID testing, to attend the race, possibly opening riders and staffers to exposure despite health protocols that are being put into place to limit contact.

The Tour starts Saturday in Nice under heightened worries that the number of coronavirus infections is rising across France.