The bittersweet news that the Tour de France will be postponed has been met by a mixture of hope and scepticism.
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On Wednesday (April 15), Tour de France organiser ASO announced that the race would not start on the planned date of June 28, but would instead run from August 29 until September 20.
The postponement of the biggest race in the world is obviously huge news for both fans and the peloton, so how are the pros reacting to the news?
Chris Froome, the Team Ineos leader and four-time Tour winner said on Twitter: “I’m seeing a lot of negativity and despondency on my timeline, I know this period has been tough on all of us and bike racing is not important in the greater scheme of things.
“But lets take hope in that we may return to some sort of normality in the near future.”
Along with the postponement of the Tour, the UCI announced an outline for a new cycling calendar, with the World Championships scheduled to run in their scheduled spot in later September, with the Giro d’Italia to follow and then the Vuelta a España.
Cycling’s five major one-day races, the Monuments, will also take place this year the UCI said, with the dates yet to be confirmed.
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), the winner of the 2019 Milan-San Remo who held the Tour’s yellow jersey for two weeks, said: “I’m really happy to finally have a calendar, to see that races like the Tour de France, the Worlds, and the Monuments are planned to go ahead. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel, which is something good for the morale in times like these as it gives you an extra boost to work harder in order to be fit for when the moment will come to be again with my teammates.”
Alaphilippe said he will discuss his options with his team, and that he hopes to return to training with clear goals on the horizon.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step team boss Patrick Lefevere added: “I am happy that we have more or less a schedule and that it includes all the big events.
“Some other races are very likely to take place in early August to give riders the opportunity to arrive in a good condition at the start of Le Tour, which will also be of importance.
“Of course, it depends from country to country, but the riders could have the possibility to run an intense training program in July, before resuming racing, so that they are fit until the end of the season.”
Classics specialist Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) said: “It can still change as it depends on how the virus develops but I think for us riders, it’s really important that we have certain dates in our head where you see big races popping up. I think mentally that’s the most important thing and for sponsors, they can see an end [to the non-racing period] and when we can start riding again. So this helps us both ways.
“It takes a few weeks to really get to a competition level but I think it is good now to know so we can also relax a little bit more, knowing when races will start so you don’t have to train that much anymore and then build up towards some smaller races and then the Tour de France.”