The Tour de France has apparently set a final deadline of May 15 to decide whether the 107th edition of the race will go ahead.
This is according to Belgian broadcaster RTBF, who interviewed two French mayors on their concerns of hosting the French Grand Tour during the coronavirus pandemic before revealing the deadline date decided by race organiser ASO and Christian Prudhomme.
The Frenchman apparently doesn't appear concerned over the possible cancellation of the race, according to one mayor, who says May 1 will also be a pivotal date where ASO will take stock of whether the Tour can go ahead as planned.
"We have to wait until May 1, which should be a pivotal date. At least that's what Christian Prudhomme told me. We'll see then if we're still in lockdown. Then there will still be time to decide whether to cancel or postpone. But frankly, he didn't seem very concerned," said Stéphane Villain, the deputy mayor of Châtaillon-Plage, which will host stage 11.
However, Villain is not keen on the suggested idea of holding the race behind closed doors if the coronavirus situation is still serious.
"The race is millions of people who come to see the riders up close. Even if the shots on television are beautiful, even if it makes you want to visit, it would completely distort the event. It wouldn't have the same flavour," he said.
"We're worried," added Pascal Schwartz, the mayor of Saint-Martin-de-Ré, which will host the finish of stage 10. "We're running very late. Because of the lockdown, roadworks are at a standstill, even though they are essential in order to run the Tour de France.
The home rider who lit up 2019's race, Julian Alaphilippe, says he doesn't want to think about a Tour de France with no fans at the roadside.
"I would be torn if the Tour de France were cancelled or continued only with the public. It would really be exceptional. I prefer not to think about it. It certainly wouldn't be great," the Deceuninck - Quick-Step rider told RCM Sport.
"The audience belongs to the Tour de France."If we have to do it, we will do it. But I prefer to imagine that the virus will disappear and that the Tour de France will continue with the public. A Tour without an audience wouldn't be the same, but if it can go ahead at all, I think everyone will still be happy."
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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