Like everyone, two-time Paris-Roubaix winner Marc Madiot could only sit at home this weekend and reflect on the great cobblestone classic, which like hundreds of races, has been canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus crisis.
Instead, speaking with the French news outlet France Info, the longtime manager of Team Groupama-FDJ preferred to focus on the future, in hopes that the 2020 season can still be salvaged in some way shape or form.
Regarding the Tour de France, Madiot was skeptical that the three-week race could actually start as scheduled on June 27.
“I don’t think it will be in June and July,” Madiot said. “We have to get through this period that we are living first. I think it will be later in the year.”
Madiot’s view echoes several news sources this weekend that stated that race organizers ASO are looking at alternative dates for the Tour rather than completely canceling the race, as they consider the original dates no longer viable. Both August and September have been cited as possible dates.
For Madiot, the Tour de France cyclists not only must be able to leave the strict confinement put in place by numerous countries, but also have sufficient time to train before starting a race as grueling as the Tour.
“First we need concrete information from the government that will allow us to begin to establish a new working calendar,” he said. “Right now we are in the dark. But psychologically it is important for the riders to know when they can expect to train again so that they can imagine doing the Tour de France.”
“You can’t do the Tour without proper training and racing before. Right now my riders are not training. They are just riding on the home trainers trying to maintain their fitness. But that is not how you prepare for the biggest races.”
Even if the Tour occurs later in the year, Madiot insists that it will be a Tour like no other, and one that is run under particular conditions. But while he admits that it is likely that there will be less public at the race, a Tour that is entirely closed to the public remains farfetched in his opinion.
“This year’s Tour will be held under unique conditions,” Madiot said. “You have to be realistic. But I think everyone is willing to make sacrifices so that it can happen. But a race totally closed to the public is difficult to imagine. Technically it would simply be hard to put into place for an entire 4,000 kilometers.”
But first, before thinking of the Tour de France, Madiot simply hopes that his riders will soon be allowed to simply go out and ride their bikes. “We are not talking about going out for a simple bike ride. It is their profession.”