Chris Froome says he is doubtful whether the organisers of the Tour de France will be able to stop crowds from gathering at the race, with the postponed event due to start three days before mass gatherings will be permitted in the country.
Speaking in an Instagram chat with ex-England cricketer Kevin Pietersen, four-time yellow jersey winner Froome said: “Would the organisers be able to keep people from coming and gathering in large crowds? In theory we can put on the race and it can be broadcast on television.
“You're not going to get the same scenes as you would get going through these tunnels of just people everywhere and all the rest of it.
"Maybe that's the version of the race we need to see this year,” the Team Ineos rider added. “I don't know."
The start of the three-week race, originally due take place in Nice on 27 June, has been put back to 29 August due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While organisers ASO have repeatedly said they do not plan on holding the event behind ‘closed doors’ they may be left with no choice due to the way in which the country emerges from lockdown.
Under proposals outlined by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe last week, no team sports will be allowed until 1 September, and no gatherings of more than 10 persons in public or private until the same date. Afterwards, gatherings of up to 5,000 people will be permitted.
France’s sports minister, Roxana Mărăcineanu, subsequently said that while further postponing or even cancelling the race was not currently under consideration, “adjustments” might have to be made – a possible reference to the security measures at Paris-Nice in March where fans were excluded from the start and finish areas.
“A certain number of qualifying competitions must be able to take place, probably in August since in July this will not be possible,” she said.
“They must be able to ride in a peloton by then. This is not the case at the moment.
“Social distancing measures imposed on the rest of society also applies to cyclists.
“There are all these uncertainties to be lifted, which are due to the progression of the pandemic in society.
“It is too early to say. The current doctrine does not impose its postponement, its cancellation or its holding,” she added.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.