Why 2020 Tour de France will be best ever

Michelton-Scott director Matt White is resigned to an international shutdown of cycling until June but points to an unlikely positive - the strongest Tour de France field in memory when the sport resumes.

With racing suspended indefinitely because of coronavirus, White is remotely monitoring the welfare and fitness of the Australian-owned squad.

And he is cautiously optimistic the Tour de France, currently slated for June 27-July 19, will proceed despite the probable spectator lock-out and the lack of traditional lead-up races.

"I am pretty sure by the month of July things might have calmed down a considerable amount, but will they have calmed down enough to safely support a couple of thousand people, coming together from different parts of Europe and the world, for the Tour de France?," he said.

 

"We're not talking about four or five venues, we are a travelling circus. We're talking about 2000 people - teams, media, logistics and movement between 20 hotels over 25 days.

"Safety has to remain the priority.

"By May, I think we're going to have to see the virus nearly out in most of Europe for ASO (race organiser) to consider it running on the dates that it is currently set for.

"By then you hope athletes are also on the road. If athletes aren't on the road by May, there's no way you can run competition in June. We have to have some competition before the Tour de France.

"You can't have the Tour de France as the first race. That doesn't work for the riders, simple as that."

 

Esteban Chaves during the Herald Sun Tour. Picture: Michael Klein
Esteban Chaves during the Herald Sun Tour. Picture: Michael Klein

 

White believes the next month is crucial.

"The next four to five weeks is crucial, that the virus infections come down to a very low level in Europe," he said.

"At the moment we're not seeing that, and I would think that as it stands at the moment, it would be pretty hard to run the Tour de France at the current dates starting at the end of June.

"But now with the Olympics off the cards, it does leave a window for later in July and even early August.

"Maybe that's the most viable option to run the Tour de France in full, and I'm sure that's what the ASO (race organiser) want to do - they want to run a three-week Tour de France."

White says a Tour de France, even without spectators, could be one of the best yet.

"For the guys that were preparing for the Tour de France, nothing has changed," White said.

 

Matt White hands drinks to Caleb Ewan. Picture: Sarah Reed
Matt White hands drinks to Caleb Ewan. Picture: Sarah Reed

 

"The only thing that has changed is that because the Giro isn't where it was and there's no Olympics, a few of the Giro riders have been added to the Tour de France long list and are competing for spots.

"If the Tour de France does go ahead in full, it'll be the best field ever.

"The Giro has never not been on before the Tour de France, and because we've been starved of a couple of months of racing in spring, people aren't going to be 'sitting out' to wait for the Vuelta.

"In a normal season this happens because they've already ridden the Giro, or a young rider can wait for the Vuelta because they've had a lot of racing in spring.

"I think in the best case scenario, there will be a lot of guys hitting the Tour de France with 20 race days under their belt, some will be even less, and that's if Suisse and Dauphine run beforehand.

"It's going to be strange, but it would be a very competitive race."

Originally published as Why 2020 Tour de France will be best ever


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