The Tour de France is headed for a likely postponement after French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday announced the suspension of all mass public gatherings until mid-July to curb the spread of COVID-19.
France will remain in confinement until May 11, Macron said, and then would only begin a gradual re-opening. And while public school would be re-opened, mass festivals and sporting events would not be permitted until mid-July at the earliest.
The news immediately answered any remaining speculation regarding the start of the Tour de France. For weeks the race had yet to be officially postponed or canceled, and now it appears almost impossible for it to begin as originally planned on June 27 in Nice.
Already this past weekend, several news outlets reported that the Tour organizers were looking for dates later in the year, and it is now clear that they have no other option, save canceling the event altogether.
Groupama-FDJ manager Marc Madiot said earlier in the day that cycling was in the dark regarding a possible date when racing and training could once again begin, and urged the government to provide clear signs soon. Those signs came within hours.
But before riders in France can even start thinking about a new race date, they must first be able to go out and train. “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,” Madiot said. “You can’t do the Tour without proper training and racing before.”
According to Macron’s 25-minute public address, the country will remain in virtual lockdown until May 11, and unless the Minister of Sports states otherwise, cyclist’s like the great majority of the population, must remain inside. But while certain teams are demanding an exemption, many of the riders themselves are against it as they simply feel it sends the wrong message to their countryman.
If, however, they can begin training in mid-May, preparing for a late-season Tour de France remains a distinct possibility.