New start date for Tour De France announced amidst Coronavirus lockdown

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The Tour de France, world cycling’s premier event, has been postponed and will now be held from August 29 to September 20, the organisers announced. The reason, of course, is the Covid-19 pandemic across the world, which puts a question on athlete safety, among other crises. The tournament was going to start from June 27, but given French Prez Emmanuel Macron’s ban on large-scale public gatherings, a postponement was inevitable.

While the news comes as a relief to professional cycling teams and fans, it also moves the three-week race out of its traditional slot in the summer holidays where roadside crowds of around 12 million would be expected to gather in festive spirit.

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“Following the president’s address on Monday evening, where large-scale events were banned in France until mid-July as a part of the fight against the spread of COVID-19, the organisers of the Tour de France, in agreement with the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), have decided to postpone the Tour de France to  Saturday 29th August to Sunday 20th September 2020,” an official statement mentioned.

The race will follow the same route as it was originally supposed to: starting in Nice and ending in Paris.

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The postponement to a new date solves a lot of problems as the organizers realized that hosting the race in the original timeslot was impossible given the current scenario in France, and around the world. Top cycling teams will survive economically, social distancing will be easier without massive crowds, and the 4,500 strong Tour de France rolling caravan can be more easily put up in hotels outside August.

Giro d’Italia, originally supposed to happen at May is now cancelled and the prestigious Tokyo Olympic road race in late July on Mount Fuji has been postponed alongside the grand event. This suggests that the Tour de France will be more competitive than ever as each and every elite cyclist will try to win the event.

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