Prudhomme: ‘The Tour will not take place ‘behind closed doors”’

ASO boss bats away suggestion of a Tour de France without fans, insists national health is the most important issue.

ASO boss Christian Prudhomme has cast doubt over the prospect of the Tour de France being held ‘behind closed doors.’

In past weeks, there had been discussion of the Tour de France going ahead without roadside fans, publicity caravan, and podium ceremonies after the idea was floated by French sports ministers. The format proposed was similar to the stripped-back approach adopted at Paris-Nice in March. However, Prudhomme quashed the idea when speaking to Sports-Auvergne, Wednesday.

“The Tour de France will not take place ‘behind closed doors’,” he said.

Several riders had spoken in the last week of their aversion to the idea of a Tour without fans, but above all, recognized that the Tour must go ahead at some point in the year when it is safe to do so in order to maintain the prosperity of the sport.

“As things stand, the Tour de France is still set to take place as scheduled [starting June 27]. Of course, everything depends on what happens with the coronavirus pandemic,” Prudhomme said.

“In the words ‘Tour de France’, the most important one is ‘France’. It’s the health situation of the country that counts. There’s only one thing that I want, and that’s that the Tour de France takes place this summer. That’s not for the Tour de France’s sake; more that if it doesn’t take place, it’ll mean that the country is in a catastrophic situation, which we really hope isn’t the case.”

News came Wednesday that the UCI is extending its suspension of racing through to June 1, meaning that the Criterium du Dauphine, typically used as a preparation race for the Tour, was to be postponed. The resumption of racing June 1 would give riders barely more than three weeks to fully prepare for the Tour if it remains at its current start date.

ASO has set a date of May 15 for finalizing the dates and format of the Tour.