Roundtable: What do you think of cycling’s return?
How should pro cycling return?
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Pro cycling plans to return in August with the Tour de France running August 29-September 30. This story ran in the June issue of VeloNews magazine.
What do you think?
Andrew Hood @eurohoody: It’s not a question of if cycling wants to resume, but rather, should it. The hosts of the season’s three grand tours — Italy, France, and Spain — have seen among the highest COVID-19 fatalities in the world, with nearly 80,000 deaths between the three nations by early May. The virus has especially been devastating for the elderly, and will continue to be so until there is either effective treatment or a vaccine. A grand tour could morph into a three-week, rolling infection-train across the world’s most impacted nations if the races are not hermetically sealed. True, the pandemic has revealed just how tenuous the economic ecosystem is for teams and races. Without the Tour, many will likely fold. Yet short-term economic interests of cycling should not take precedence over larger public health concerns. Ultimately, it will be governments and health authorities who will make the final decision. The Tour de France can wait if it’s necessary to save lives.
James Startt: I think that it is important to have a plan for the sport. Obviously it all depends on the evolution of the coronavirus and even this new schedule could fall by the wayside if there are repeated waves of the illness. But it is not unreasonable to imagine that in three months time some modest races could be held and in four months time the Tour itself. And one thing is clear, all actors in the sport, be it the riders, teams, race organizers, media and sponsors, would benefit with a return to racing. If we could have even a short season with say the Tour de France, the world championships and some classics, then that would set the sport up for a solid return in 2021. If it doesn’t happen, well, 2021 could get off to a tentative start. And the one thing that has struck me is the unanimous desire to hold the Tour de France if at all possible. Sure, a lot of other races stand to lose out. But the sport of cycling possesses the single greatest annual sporting event in the world, and it only makes sense to make that the foundation and focus of the 2020 season.
Fred Dreier @freddreier: The UCI’s plan to bring back cycling confirmed the priorities of our sport’s power brokers; it did not become an opportunity to rethink the sport and correct problems that have been nagging it for years. The Tour de France received the best calendar spot and its announcement came out well before any other races were confirmed. The other races and the entire women’s WorldTour were then given attention, but only after Le Tour got what it wanted. And the calendar that has been produced is reflective of the Tour’s outsized importance. The Giro d’Italia conflicts with every major one-day classic, while the Tour is scheduled without conflict. Thus, the Tour de France in 2020 is likely to only gain in its importance over the whole sport. Like many cycling fans, I was hoping that this time away would give the sport some time to reflect on its shortcomings and to develop some strategies around equality. With the Tour getting special treatment, I can see that this was not the case.