Spectators banned from starts and finishes as Tour de France re-enters coronavirus red zone

After two weeks of relative safety, the French Grand Tour heads back to areas where coronavirus cases are rising

Fans will be banned from the starts and finishes of Tour de France stages as the race heads back into coronavirus red zones.

Since the Grand Départ in Nice, the peloton has avoided areas deemed red zones, places with 50 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 in a seven-day period.

>> Save up to 31% with a magazine subscription. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<

But now, as the race heads from Clermont-Ferrand (63 on the map below) towards Lyon (69) on stage 14, race organisers have stepped up measures to ensure the race reaches Paris and also protect the general public.

Map from the French Health Ministry showing the 42 coronavirus red zones (French Health Ministry)

The number of new confirmed Covid-19 cases in France has risen by 9,406 over the last 24 hours, bringing the number of total cases to 363,350, as France fears a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

>>> Romain Bardet abandons Tour de France with concussion

The measures introduced will reflect those put in place at Paris-Nice in March, the final race before the coronavirus break.

Buffer zones will be created, blocking spectators from within 100 metres of the podium at the start and 300 metres at the finish.

Fans have also been restricted on some climbs, with spectators needing a bike and a mask to access certain sections of road, although riders raised concerns that some fans were then removing their masks to shout encouragement at the peloton.

“Anybody that does wear their mask at the side of the road should feel like they’re doing their bit to get the race to Paris,” Israel Start-Up Nation’s Dan Martin said at the time.

With the race bubble re-tested for coronavirus on the first rest day, four team support staff lef the race after testing positive, as well as the Tour director Christian Prudhomme.

The French Grand Tour has eight stages remaining, set to arrive on the Champs-Élysées in Paris on Sunday September 20.

Riders, team support staff and race organisers will undergo another round of coronavirus testing on the second rest day on Monday, with two positive tests within a single team enough for the squad to be sent home from the race.