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Speaking on the post-stage television show “Vélo Club” on the France 2 channel, Prudhomme said: “It was unexpected. We know that on the route of the Tour de France, which carries great reasonance, it happens occasionally.”
In the last decade, tear gas was used on a farmers’ protest in 2018, which inadvertently hurt some riders in the peloton. Tacks were strewn on the Mur de Peguere climb in 2012, causing numerous punctures.
“We were there for a few minutes, then happily the stage carried on as normal. The race situation was very clear with the breakaway a long way ahead,” Prudhomme said.
According to Reuters, the race director had earlier commented about the incident: “These things happen, it’s the price of success.”
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Climate change protests have occurred regularly over this sporting summer. “It happened at Roland Garros [French Open tennis men’s semi final], Formula 1 at Silverstone, the Premier League and it happened at the Tour today.”
Asked how you manage something like this, he laughed and said: “With tact! But no, I was some way away because it happened in front of Bettiol and we were 300 meters behind.”
The conversation with the race director of 15 years moved onto another hot topic: COVID-19. Pogačar domestique George Bennett (UAE Team Emirates) and Luke Durbridge (BikeExchange-Jayco) left the race this morning after registering positive tests.
“There were no cases among the riders and two among the personnel,” he said of the second rest day antigen tests. “But three days before the start, we had two, it can depend on the day.
“As the teams test sometimes every three days, or two days or some even every day, it happens little by little, not all on one day.”
He confirmed the race organisation ASO’s decision to close the team paddock section at the start from tomorrow onwards. “It’s a very good job being done by the teams, everyone, and we hope the situation remains good to the finish.”
Pogačar is beatable
As the race reaches its midpoint, Prudhomme was happy to have a close-run competition as the toughest stages approach. “Even if Pogačar has already shown again in Megève he’s very strong. I’m not the only one to say that he can be beaten.”
“There are three big mountain stages that await us,” he said. “We have the long cols, which suit Vingegaard better, so we’ll see.”
Next up Wednesday is stage 11 over the Col de Télégraphe, Col du Galibier and a finish on the Col du Granon, 11.4 kilometers long at 9.1 percent average, up at 2,404 meters. “The champions have not been above 2,000 meters yet, so we’ll see what that brings,” Prudhomme said.
“Some riders will have the same capacity, and others will not. I’m curious to see how they fare on the Granon and the mythical Alpe d’Huez [the day after].”