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Racing without crowds ‘nothing new,’ says Buchmann

French authorities still investigating possibilities for a Tour de France 'behind closed' doors as Plan B scenario.

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While racing this summer’s Tour de France without roadside crowds wouldn’t be ideal, it’s nothing the peloton hasn’t experienced before, says Emanuel Buchmann.

The Bora-Hansgrohe rider has pointed out to DPA International that many WorldTour races play out on roads devoid of cheering fans and public hype.

“We already ride many cycling races where there are not so many spectators,” Buchmann said. “At the UAE Tour in Abu Dhabi there are hardly any spectators at the roadside. So it is nothing new for us.

“It is certainly not pleasant, but we are also used to it,” he continued. “We often participate in competitions with limited public interest. It will really give a different feeling, but we can race [the Tour] for a year without an audience.”

Some of the most iconic images from Tours of the past are marked by baying crowds cheering on riders atop Alpine and Pyrenean peaks. With fears around coronavirus still front of mind, French authorities are continuing to consider the possibility of a Tour “behind closed doors.” The possibility has been bubbling away in the background for several months now, and French minister for sport Roxana Maracineanu confirmed Monday it was still being considered as a Plan B.

“My biggest wish is that there is an audience at Roland Garros and the Tour de France, because those matches without an audience are not imaginable,” Maracineanu told RTL France. “But the reality is that we are currently getting organizations to work on different scenarios where less audience can be present. … Without a vaccine, a return to normal for sport is impossible.”

Buchmann will be heading up Bora-Hangrohe’s GC challenge at the Tour later this summer, looking to back up his breakthrough performance in 2019, where he bagged fourth place, just 25 seconds off the podium.

“The goal is to improve,” Buchmann said. “That would be a place on the podium, but for that everything has to come together. It’s not far from the podium to glory, last year’s fourth-place wasn’t that far away either”

The German climber is one of many pros to have taken on an Everesting challenge in recent weeks, riding to raise funds for the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk children’s charity. “Training is a bit monotonous right now without racing,” Buchmann told DPA. “So I thought about doing something crazy,”

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.