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'Tour de France cannot be first event back' - Mitchelton-Scott chief

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Podium / Simon Yates of United Kingdom and Team Mitchelton-Scott / Celebration / Miss / Hostess / during the 106th Tour de France 2019, Stage 12 a 209,5km stage from Toulouse to Bagnères-de-Bigorre / TDF / #TDF2019 / @LeTour / on July 18, 2019 in Bagnere

Image credit: Getty Images

ByEnis Koylu
31/03/2020 at 13:27 | Updated 31/03/2020 at 15:08

Mitchelton-Scott sport director Matt White believes that cycling events will have to resume in May in order for the Tour de France to take place as scheduled.

Cycling is among the many sports hit by the suspension of competitive events across Europe because of the coronavirus pandemic, with the Giro d'Italia having already confirmed that 2020's first Grand Tour has been postponed.

The Tour de France is due to take place between June 27 and July 19 and White feels that the situation will need to improve considerably for the event to go ahead as scheduled.

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He said in a Q&A with the team's official website: "I am pretty sure by the month of July things might have calmed down a considerable amount, but will they have calmed down enough to safely support a couple of thousand people, coming together from different parts of Europe and the world, for the Tour de France?

"We’re not talking about 4-5 venues, we are a travelling circus. We’re talking about 2000 people; teams, media, logistics and movement between 20 hotels over 25 days.

"By May, I think we’re going to have to see the virus nearly out in most of Europe for ASO to consider it running on the dates that it is currently set for. By then you hope athletes are also on the road. If athletes aren’t on the road by May, there’s no way you can run competition in June.

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"We have to have some competition before the Tour de France. You can’t have the Tour de France as the first race. That doesn’t work for the riders, simple as that.

"But now with the Olympics off the cards, it does leave a window for later in July and even early August. Maybe that’s the most viable option to run the Tour de France in full, and I’m sure that’s what the ASO want to do – they want to run a three-week Tour de France."

Furthermore, White is positive about the prospect of running the Tour de France behind closed doors, despite conceding that the experience of having the event without fans would be surreal.

"The Tour de France without crowds would be weird. But, a lot of our early season races and smaller races don’t have big crowds. It would feel strange for the riders, to be competing at our showcase event with minimal people, but it would work.

"Even if there was only the 2000 people travelling, it would be a positive for the French economy, and obviously the TV audience would be huge because people are looking for things to watch and once sport does recommence, I am sure it would rate highly."

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