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French star Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) has swung from euphoria to caution at the prospect of racing the Tour de France later this summer. The two-time Tour podium finisher is raising questions about the viability of racing the Tour in pandemic conditions.
“The peloton is a hotbed of infection,” Bardet told Le Monde. “It’s difficult to imagine that a rider will not come in contact with a carrier of the virus. We breathe, sweat and rub up against each other every day. Think of the massage, and contact in restaurants. It’s impossible to avoid.”
Last week, officials confirmed an adjusted racing calendar with racing packed into the second half of 2020, with the Tour de France set to begin in late August due to the coronavirus shutdown. At first, Bardet expressed enthusiasm.
“At first, I was euphoric when they said there would be a Tour,” Bardet said. “Let’s be honest, I am a sportsman, and it was important to see that the Tour continues. It was like a light at the end of the tunnel. Now I am more prudent.”
Bardet, like others including health experts, are questioning how something as far-ranging and complicated as the Tour de France might look during lockdown conditions and a world pandemic.
“Now one can say for sure that the race will be held,” he said. “It’s important to have a goal as a cyclist, but I see a lot of dangers. There will not be a miracle vaccine by September, so we will have to face very strict safety measures. Is that realistic with the character of the Tour? There are a lot of questions.
“And it’s worrying about doping controls,” he continued. “There are not many controls. It’s been a long time since they’ve tested me. I only hope that there will be more controls if we start to race again. There is a lot of uncertainty and anxiety about this question, and it’s a problem.”
— AFP contributed to this report.