‘Before the start in Nice we were afraid - getting to Paris was a victory’: Tour de France director reflects on unpredictable 2020 edition

Christian Prudhomme also said last year’s Tour was still better

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Christian Prudhomme says the Tour de France 2020 reaching Paris was a victory in itself, because of the constant threat of coronavirus.

The director of the Tour Prudhomme, who was forced to leave the race for a week after testing positive for Covid-19, also said the 2019 Tour was a better race, despite the surprises 2020 edition had to offer. 

Coronavirus restrictions made the 2020 edition hugely uncertain, as thousands of tests were carried out over the three weeks, with the risk teams would have to be ejected if two riders test positive for Covid-19.

Prudhomme told French station Sud Radio: “In the hours leading up to the start of the race in Nice, we were afraid, knowing that two positive COVID-19 cases would lead to the exclusion of a team.

“The teams tightened the screw even more - they did the job. The measures that needed to be taken so that we could have a race, so that we could all work, became clear to everyone."

The ‘race bubble’, which included all riders and team staff, were tested for coronavirus before the race and during both rest days. 

 During the first rest day, the race bubble was tested with five people at the 2020 Tour returning positive results for coronavirus.  

There were four staff members, all from different teams, who did test positive as well as one “technical service provider”.

The staff members were from Ineos Grenadiers, Mitchelton-Scott,  Cofidis and AG2R La Mondiale. 

 Prudhomme also tested positive for coronavirus and had to leave the race.

Then on the second rest day, there wasn’t a single coronavirus positive  from all 785 tests carried out. 

Comparing the 2019 Tour, with the exploits of Julian Alaphilippe in yellow and Bernal’s victory, with the shock Tadej Pogacar win in 2020, Prudhomme said he preferred the former.

>>> Tom Dumoulin reveals he was considering retirement before Tour de France 2020 

He said: “I'm not going to put it at the same level as last year, which was so exciting with the outstanding performances from the French riders.

"For a moment in Nice this year, we dreamed about what might happen, but all the crashes on the opening stage played a huge role.” 

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Alex Ballinger
Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.