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Late July start for Tour de France according to latest reports

Organisers ASO tight-lipped for now, but no logistics problem forecast if race is delayed

Tour de France organisers ASO are reportedly considering delaying the start of the race by four weeks, with plans for the opening stage in Nice to begin on 25 July, reports French newspaper Le Parisien.

Currently, the Grand Depart of the 107th edition of the three-week race remains fixed for 25 June in the Cote d’Azur city.

It has looked unlikely for some time now that the world’s biggest annual sporting event will be able to start on that date, however.

Currently, the UCI has suspended all racing up until 1 June, a little more than three weeks before the race is due to begin.

With individual countries – including France – in a state of lockdown as a result of the coronavirus with little clarity on when restrictions might be lifted, expectations are that the race inevitably have to be postponed.

By pushing the start of the race back by four weeks, it would fall more or less into the slot on the sporting calendar vacated by the Tokyo Olympic Games, which have now been postponed until next year.

Le Parisien reports that ASO has been in touch with the mayors of a number of start and finish towns on the route to sound out opinion over a potential change of date, which would see the race finish in Paris on 16 August.

Logistically, the Tour de France and the huge circus that accompanies it, would require hotels in or near towns and cities hosting stages to be blocked-booked many months in advance to house riders and team staff, as well as race personnel.

In any other year, trying to move the race back by a month at this stage would simply be impossible.

But while August may be the peak of the French holiday season, local councils reportedly expect that even if lockdown restrictions are lifted well ahead of then, there will be ample accommodation for the race.

Michel Villa, the mayor of Privas, the town where Stage 5 is due to finish on 1 July and which in common with others hosting stage starts or finishes will have had to pay between €80,000 and €100,000 for the privilege, told the Spanish news agency Efe that a delay of four weeks would not cause undue problems.

“It is not a problem for us to delay by a month if the health context is favourable by then,” said Villa whose town, the capital of the Ardèche department and located around 100km north of Avignon, is due to host the race for the first time. 

“We can maintain the planned logistics. 1 July was perfect because it allowed us to launch the tourist season, but this year everything will be delayed, and I don't think the hotels are full in August,” he added.

ASO itself remains tight-lipped on any contingency plans for the race, but director Christian Prudhomme is opposed to holding it behind closed doors, as has been suggested by France’s sports minister.

Instead, the company has said that it plans to make a decision on whether or not to postpone the race by 15 May – although any further extension of the UCI’s ban on racing in the intervening time could take the issue out of its hands.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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11 comments

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Kendalred | 3 years ago
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It will be interesting to see what the advice to those travelling to watch will be. I still have a flight and Air BNB booked for the end of June in Nice. EasyJet have offered to move my flight and the accommodation may allow the same, but I'm not getting my hopes up too much. 

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kie7077 replied to Kendalred | 3 years ago
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Fat chance of TDF really happening this year, but if anyone has an explanation of how COVID-19 could magically be defeated withint the next 12 months I'd love to hear it.

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ktache replied to kie7077 | 3 years ago
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It's not magical, but it requires huge effort, and it's public health, you test, a lot and you trace.  It's how the WHO, and other agencies, have massively reduced tranmission of MERS and SARS, both coronoviruses, and how most Ebola outbreaks don't become worlwide outbreaks.

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kie7077 replied to ktache | 3 years ago
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MERS and SARS and Ebola were easy to trace because people got sick fast with those. COVID-19 is a bit more tricky with it being contageous before symptoms appear and some people don't even get symptoms. And to add insult to injury it has a habit of recurring, my work mate got better and then a bit ill again. I stayed the f*** away from work, I'm risk averse even 1% chance of dying doesn't sound good to me. And I have a lack of air phobia

It looks like most countries simply don't have enough of the necessary equipment to do very large scale repeated testing. It's not surprising that the two countries that are doing the most testing are Germany and South Korea.  Germany manufactures testing machines, maybe S Korea does too or maybe they were just better prepared because of the previous outbreaks.

We're only doing selective testing here in the UK, France has done a bit less testing than us. I have heard nothing about the UK gov't gearing up to do extensive tracing, it sounds like they just gave up at the start and never bothered to get back on track.

 

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ktache replied to kie7077 | 3 years ago
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It might be tricky but it's the only way we might get back to any sort of normality, before a useable vaccine becomes massively available.  The higher ups seemed to be initially obsessed with the rapid "herd immunity" thing, anyone heard about that recently?  It was alright that only the old would get really ill and maybe die, how's that going? Dom? Boris?

We have many machines, just my last small reasearch group had 4 96 well pcr machines to use, with several more older ones mothballed in cupboards and storerooms, the UK just never had the will to make use of the facilities it has.  Maybe PHE wanting to keep things in house?

It can be done.

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Rich_cb replied to ktache | 3 years ago
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It can't be done.

About 50% of cases are asymptomatic according to the Icelandic data.

There is no guarantee a vaccine will ever be available.

Herd immunity is the only other way out of this.

Economic damage kills people too, lots of people, perpetuating the economic damage any longer than absolutely necessary will likely cause more harm than it will prevent.

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matthewn5 replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago
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Except that the latest scientific papers are showing half of people who had Covid-19 didn't develop any antibodies... so no immunity. This is going to be hard...

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srchar replied to matthewn5 | 3 years ago
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matthewn5 wrote:

Except that the latest scientific papers are showing half of people who had Covid-19 didn't develop any antibodies... so no immunity. This is going to be hard...

Interesting. Could you share some links please? All I can find on Google are studies finding that half of cases are asymptomatic, which isn't the same thing.

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Rich_cb replied to matthewn5 | 3 years ago
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Study from the Netherlands showed that 25 times more people had antibodies than were officially diagnosed with Covid-19.

Indicates a lot of asymptomatic spread and a good degree of immunity.

The samples were taken in the first week of April when The Netherlands had approx 20,000 confirmed cases.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-netherlands-study/...

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago
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I hope that there is a good correlation between antibodies and immunity, but that's not necessarily the case: https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/immunity-covid-19-antibodies-not-certain-hiv-co-discoverer-cautions-n1183631

Dr Robert Gallo wrote:

But that's not always the case. Sometimes the antibodies are positive and the person is still very infectious. So, you have to remember that.

I'd like to say there are antibodies and there are antibodies and there are antibodies. Some are nothing at all. Some are protective indicators. And sometimes, though not so commonly, they can make matters worse.

For example, dengue fever — if you get infected and have antibodies and then get infected again, you do worse. Another one is in babies, the respiratory syncytial virus. They can have antibodies that make things worse.

Edit: Just seen a very similar article on the BBC: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52335210

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 3 years ago
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It's true that we don't know yet what level of immunity the antibodies represent.

If they don't represent protection then we are in big trouble.

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