The Tour de France has yet to finalize its health and sanitation procedures for this year’s race, but race director Christian Prudhomme expects more than a few changes will be enacted to ensure public safety from the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday Prudhomme gave an interview to AFP where he touched on several protocols for health and safety that are likely to be followed at the upcoming event.
“There will surely be no kisses or hugs during the official ceremonies,” Prudhomme said. “And one might think that it is certainly not the best year to collect autographs. The public will be able to come on the Tour but there will probably have a more or less severe filtering.”
Prudhomme added that fan access to the major climbs could be limited solely to foot and bicycle traffic.
But the overriding caveat to this new information is timing. Prudhomme said the Tour will not make formal announcements about its protocols for public health for at least another month.
“The situation is changing from day to day,” Prudhomme said. “The specifications will be defined in the period from the end of July to the beginning of August.”
The information — or lack thereof — presents a hurdle for teams, media, and spectators who are attending this year’s race. The UCI recently published its medical guidelines for a return to racing for teams, race officials, and media.
Protocols such as splitting teams into “bubbles” to maintain social distancing, and an uptick in testing for COVID-19, are just some of the guidance offered by the governing body.
The Tour is likely to produce its own safety guidelines for the upcoming race, due to the size and scope of the event. Prudhomme said that the Tour’s rules are likely to follow rules enacted for the Critérium du Dauphiné.
One thing that is guaranteed to change for the Tour is the size of the publicity caravan, the parade of floats and sponsor vehicles that drives the course prior to the race. Prudhomme said he expects the caravan to be nearly half the size it is in normal years, due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
“What we can say is that there will be a race with the best riders. The advertising caravan will have around a hundred vehicles, up to around 60 percent compared to previous years,” he said. “The economic crisis is affecting the various business sectors.”