French riders ‘will not be able to participate in Tour’ if unable to train outside soon, warns union

President of French Cycling Union hopes for imminent ease of lockdown restrictions to allow riders to make up for lost training time.

Riders in France haven’t set tire to tarmac for six weeks, and the president of the French cycling union has painted a bleak picture of the consequences if they are not freed from lockdown soon.

“It’s very simple, if they cannot train on the roads from May 11, they will not be able to participate in the Tour de France,” Pascal Chanteur, president of the French professional cyclists’ union (UNCP) said. “And a Tour without French people would be a stain.”

France is one of the nations hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis, alongside North America, Italy, and Spain. Severe lockdown protocols have been in place in the country since mid-March, with French President Emmanuel Macron placing the nation in confinement until at least May 11.

Since then, Tour hopefuls such as Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet have been making do with smart trainers and Zwift. However, with a late-August start date now pinned down for the Tour de France, riders have been given a target to aim at, and the pressure is on to get into shape.

“Three and a half months to prepare for such an event, it’s already going to be very difficult, so if it’s less, it’s not even worth it” Chantuer told Le Parisien, Friday. “If it is not possible to prepare well, there is no point in them going to the figuration or getting injured.”

While riders in France have been couped up indoors, over the border in nations such as Belgium and Switzerland, cyclists have been free to train on the open roads. Details around if and how the French lockdown will be eased in mid-May are still to be confirmed, and Chanteur sees it as essential for Frenchmen to be able to hit the roads soon.

“I am especially worried about May 11,” he said. “Will French riders have the right to train normally on the roads from the start of the deconfinement? I have not seen or heard anything clear on this, and that is a real problem.”

“We hope to go out on May 11 and try to make up for our delay compared to the Colombians, Belgians, Dutch, or Swiss who can ride,” Chanteur added.

All eyes are on May 11.