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With a resurgence of COVID-19 in the southeast region of France, the 2020 Tour de France Grand Départ will have very strict controls for spectators and media.
French health authorities have reclassified Nice as a “red zone” which means that only a few dozen fans would be able to attend the Tour start Saturday.
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“We are shifting from tight conditions to very tight conditions,” said regional prefect Bernard Gonzalez, flanked by Nice mayor Christian Estrosi, and Tour de France organizer Christian Prudhomme at a recent press event.
The AFP reported that the most recent data available indicates 39 positive tests per 100,000 across all age bands. This is four times the infection rate compared with 30 days ago.
Authorities in the seaside resort town limited Thursday’s team parade to allow only 1,000 spectators.
Fines of €135 ($160) were levied on anyone without a protective face mask in public squares and along the beachfront walkways.
The Alpes-Maritimes region where Nice is located was overnight reclassified as a COVID-19 red zone, along with 18 other French locales.
Anyone involved in the Tour — riders, team support, and officials in the caravan — have undergone nasal swab tests for coronavirus symptoms.
“It’s unpleasant (the nasal swab) but necessary. We are all here ready to race after all,” said Astana’s Colombian captain Miguel Ángel López.
There will be no spectator camper vans or Tour “pop-up villages” on the summits in the mountains, starting with stage 2.
“The health measures put in place reassure us but we are all well aware that there is no zero risk, we know that it can happen something at any time,” recognizes Guillaume Martin (Cofidis).
The climb-heavy 21-day stage race starts Saturday with a run around the outside of Nice, avoiding the low Alps behind it until stage two. The first day of racing should be a day for the sprinters.
“I feel more pressure than last year at the start of my first Tour de France,” said Australian Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) who won three stages in 2019, including the final stage.