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Five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault is spending his time under national lockdown chopping wood on his farm, but he recently found time to weigh in on the difficulties facing the cycling world in an interview with Le Parisien.
The 65-year-old Breton is taking the coronavirus crisis seriously, and hopes that the sport continues to do the same, even if that means adding its biggest event to the growing list of races that have been called off.
“We can’t afford to let the Tour go ahead if the situation isn’t safe yet,” Hinault said. “It is not up to me to make a decision and we still have time, but we must ask ourselves whether it makes sense if people stand by the side of the road at risk time. You quickly speak of tens of thousands of spectators every day.”
The ASO, which runs the Tour, recently postponed marquee events like Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but has yet to call off any of its races past April. France is currently under a nationwide lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, but it is unclear how long those measures will continue.
For Hinault, given the magnitude of preparation required to put on the Tour, it would make sense to move quickly to cancel or postpone the event as soon as it becomes clear that circumstances make it impossible to hold the race—even if that is several weeks out from the planned start in late June.
“The Tour is really a huge machine, since you also need police escort and hotels. We should certainly not hesitate,” Hinault pointed out.
There is still time for those circumstances to change, but for now, pro racing is taking a backseat in Hinault’s mind.
“The Tour de France is a great party, but life is more important,” Hinault said. “People are now at risk of dying, cycling is really not important now.”