After months of silence despite would-be participants trying to find out what is going on, Tour de France organisers ASO have finally announced what has seemed inevitable for a long time – the cancellation of this year’s L’Etape du Tour, as well as sister cyclosportive, the Paris-Roubaix Challenge.
Disappointed entrants will have to wait more than a year and a half to get their money back, however, with ASO instead issuing a voucher that can be used against future events it runs.
Would-be participants have until 15 September to apply for the voucher, and any unspent funds will only be returned to them after 18 months, under and plan approved by the French government.
The cancellation comes as France eases lockdown restrictions albeit with strict rules on social distancing and gatherings, and while it is still planned for the postponed Tour de France to start on 29 August, staging a mass participation event such as a sportive is out of the question any time soon.
In a statement, ASO said:
After a long few months in lockdown, we sincerely hope that all is well with you and those close to you and that you’ve been able to begin readjusting to normality. With a bit of luck, you will have been able to do some sort of physical activity each week during the lockdown. We don’t know about you but we can’t wait for everything to go back to normal so we can put our fruits of our training to the test in a timed course.
As you know, the COVID-19 public health crisis has profoundly impacted sport, on an amateur and professional level. A.S.O. hasn’t been able to organise a public event since the beginning of March. Within this context, on the 7th May, the French Council of Ministers voted for a resolution detailing how we can respond to questions concerning the cancellation of our events. It means that up until the 15th September 2020, we are able to offer you a voucher for a similar event that will be valid for 18 months instead of an immediate refund.
This means that following the cancellation of the L'Etape du Tour de France, you will benefit from a voucher with a value equivalent to what you spent on the bib and additional options. You can use this voucher to sign up for more A.S.O. events over a period of 18 months, after which, any unspent funds on the voucher will be refunded to you.
We are currently working very hard to put these vouchers in place for the large number of riders/runners who had been preparing for our events over the last few months. In mid-July, you’ll receive an email specifying the value of your voucher and the practical information on how to claim etc. We regret any inconvenience caused by this exceptional situation and we thank you for your understanding.
The 15,000-plus places for this year’s 30th edition of L’Etape du Tour sold out shortly after they were released in October last year. Each year, cyclists from the UK form the biggest foreign contingent at the event.
It was due to take place on Sunday 5 July, starting and finishing on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice a week after the planned Grand Depart of the Tour de France in the Cote d’Azur city.
It would have been the first time the event would have started and finished in the same location, and the first time the French coast would have featured in the parcours, with the 177-kilometre route also featuring the Col de la Colmiane, Col de Turini, and the Col d’Eze.
Organisers of major closed-road sportives in the UK that have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic have taken different approaches to refunds.
Active Sport & Entertainment Ltd refused to refund any money to people who had entered Vélo Birmingham & Midlands, due to have taken place later this month, while those who had entered September’s Vélo Essex only received 45 per cent of their entry fee.
By contrast, when organisers London Marathon Events announced last month that it had decided to cancel August’s Prudential RideLondon festival, people who had secured places were promised a full refund.
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.