French President Macron buries any hope of a June Tour de France start
In an address to the nation on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron buried any hope of the Tour de France continuing as planned, stating that no events with large crowds will go ahead until mid-July, at the earliest.
Macron said that hospitals in parts of France, including Paris, remain saturated. “The system is under tension and the epidemic is not under control,” he said. He extended the nation’s lockdown orders until May 11.
“Major festivals and events with a large audience will not be able to be held at least until mid-July,” Macron said.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme had previously stated that the Tour will not take place “behind closed doors,” meaning without fans lining the route as usual. Tour organiser ASO has held off formally delaying or canceling the Tour, though the statement from Macron may force their hand.
“In the words ‘Tour de France’, the most important one is ‘France’,” Prudhomme said last week. “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.”
A postponement is still an option. The complete cancellation of the Tour de France would put an unprecedented strain on the modern professional peloton.
“It’s as simple as this: If the Tour does not take place, teams could disappear, riders and staff alike would find themselves unemployed,” Marc Madiot told AFP.