Roadside crowds of up to 5,000 allowed at the Tour de France

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Tour de France boss Christian Prudhomme has confirmed that roadside crowds will be allowed at this year’s race, albeit in smaller numbers than normal.

“Yes, the public will have access to the Tour de France,” Prudhomme told AFP in an interview, “but there will be screening areas at the start and finish areas to allow
the current government maximum of 5,000 fans.”

A French ban on gatherings of more than 5,000 people was set to end on August 15 but a surge in coronavirus cases saw the ban extended until October 30.

Prudhomme explained that screening “will also be in place in the 20-or-so climbs and passes” along the Tour route to adhere to the 5,000-person limit, and that “in certain places, only people on foot, by bicycle or who come on public transport set up by the hosting towns or villages can go to the passes”.

Prudhomme expects that fewer roadside fans will attend the 2020 Tour than normal anyway, given the race was pushed back from its usual summer time slot due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Moving from July to September naturally means fewer people,” he said. “People are at work, children have gone back to school, the tourists are no longer there.

“On the Tour routes, there are 20% foreigners in July, 50% in some passes. We already know that we will no longer have the British, the Australians, the Americans.”

Race organiser ASO has organised for a total of two tonnes of hand sanitiser to be distributed over 60 points along the race route, and will enforce mandatory mask-wearing at start and finish areas. The Tour’s publicity caravan is expected to be shorter than normal, and the total number of vehicles following the race — those of organisers, teams, journalists and so on — will be down by 35-40%.

In addition to these measures, riders and team staff will be required to abide by strict health protocols throughout the race, including multiple COVID-19 tests and staying within their team “bubble”. A rider or team staffer who shows serious symptoms or tests positive to COVID-19 throughout the race will be removed from the Tour. If two people in a team unit are infected, the entire team and its entourage will be removed.

The 2020 Tour de France runs from this Saturday August 29 until Sunday September 20.

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