Holding Tour de France in 2020 could cause 'substantial public health concerns,' says expert

The Tour has been postponed from its planned dates, but would the race still be held too soon?

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Holding the Tour de France in 2020 could lead to “substantial public health concerns,” according to a health expert.

Earlier Tour organiser ASO announced that the three-week race would be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, with the event now scheduled to start in Nice on August 29.

But the decision not to cancel the 2020 Tour has been met with scepticism in some quarters, as many people feel the coronavirus crisis could still prevent the race from going ahead.

Professor Benjamin Cowie, from the University of Melbourne, has questioned whether the Tour should be abandoned this year to protect public safety.

In an interview with Belgian broadcaster Sporza, he said: “Unless the Tour de France was held in a way that was almost unrecognisable compared to how it has been previously, you would have to say there'd be some pretty substantial public health concerns with holding it in August.”

“[Cancelling the Tour is] a conservative and safe approach, one well worth considering.”

The pros themselves have had a mixed reaction to the news, with many welcoming a clear goal and describing it as a “light at the end of the tunnel.”

Jumbo-Visma’s Tom Dumoulin said that if there is the opportunity to run the Tour in a slimmed down way, that should be the priority, as he is concerned about the economic impact of losing the biggest bike race in the world for a year.

The 2017 Giro d’Italia winner said: “That is why we will do our very best to still organise races. But it should never endanger public health.”

Colombian star Rigoberto Urán (EF Pro Cycling) has also raised concerns about the loss of the Tour.

He said: “Nothing is certain in this situation, our goal is to be at the Tour, but whether it runs or not, we'll see.

“It would be a great economic crisis. Cycling is a poor sport because it is only supported by companies, if the Tour is not run it would be a catastrophe.”

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Urán said that if the Tour de France doesn’t run, only three teams (which he didn’t name) could survive the economic impact.

Team Ineos principal Sir Dave Brailsford recently said his squad would pull out of the Tour if it wasn’t deemed safe to race.

“We would reserve the right to withdraw the team should we deem it necessary,” Brailsford told the Guardian. “Whilst the race is on, we will plan to participate, but equally we will monitor the evolving nature of how things play out, as we did prior to Paris-Nice.”

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