Tour de France will be raced from 29 August to 20 September, organisers
announced on Wednesday, postponing cycling's flagship event originally
slated to start on 27 June due to the coronavirus lockdown.
The new dates follow French President Emmanuel Macron's extension of a ban on large public gatherings until mid-July.
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.
"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, 29 August to
Sunday, 20 September, 2020," a statement from the organisers said.
It said the race would follow the same route as the original itinerary, starting in Nice and ending in Paris.
The new date solves a series of problems after organisers faced up to
the reality that the race could never take place on the original
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.
With the Tokyo Games and football's Euro 2020 both delayed by a year,
the Tour is the last major event remaining on the summer sports
Elite cycling will breathe a huge sigh of relief as the Tour accounts for most of its earnings.
"The Tour represents around 60 percent of earnings in a season," French team AG2R boss Vincent Lavenu said last week.
The Tour will provide a daily fix for deprived sports addicts the
world over, with millions of armchair fans able to tune in daily,
including those still working from home.
Organisers Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) had stubbornly refused to
cancel the event, and while the new date is later than expected, it now
gives them time to stage the warm-up Criterium du Dauphine - held
annually ahead of the Tour but postponed this year as the spring cycling
season was swept aside by the coronavirus.
Cycling's governing body the UCI announced the new dates, saying that
May's postponed Giro d'Italia would be raced after the Tour de France,
and the Vuelta a Espana after that, with dates to be announced in May.
That eight-day jaunt through
the Alps will likely attract huge attention, as all the top cyclists in
the world will want to compete.
With May's Giro d'Italia being cancelled and also the prestigious
Tokyo Olympic road race in late July on Mount Fuji, the Tour de France
will be more competitive than ever as the whole spectrum of elite
cyclists focus on the one race.
"The Tour de France is 3 000km of smiles," race director Christian
Prudhomme has repeated many times in the past in reference to the Tour
and its fans.
But he has also stressed that health comes first, ahead of the Tour de France, as the country battles the coronavirus crisis.
France has been under lockdown since 17 March in an attempt to slow
the spread of the virus which has claimed the lives of over 15 700
people in the country.
The Tour de France then will likely become more of a shared national
experience than usual and could be viewed by the general public as
something of a return to normal with some predicting it could be part of
the healing process from the lockdown.
"This period of confinement will hurt us all morally. We will need a
cure for it and a Tour de France would help give us a sense of
stability," 94-year-old former cyclist Raphael Geminiani told L'Equipe
The epic race will now embark from Nice on the Mediterranean coast on
29 August and culminate over three weeks later on Paris's celebrated
Champs Elysees on 20 September, where the traditional yellow jersey is
awarded to the winner beneath the Arc de Triomphe.
Full list of stages on the 2020 Tour de France, to be held over 3 470km starting in Nice on 29 August and ending in Paris on 20 September:
Stage 1: Nice - Nice (156km)
Stage 2: Nice - Nice (187km)
Stage 3: Nice - Sisteron (198km)
Stage 4: Sisteron - Orcieres-Merlette (157km)
Stage 5: Gap - Privas (183km)
Stage 6: Le Teil - Mont Aigoual (191km)
Stage 7: Millau - Lavaur (168km)
Stage 8: Cazeres-sur-Garonne - Loudenvielle (140km)
Stage 9: Pau - Laruns (154km)
Rest Day in Charente-Maritime
Stage 10: Ile de Oleron - Ile de Re (170km)
Stage 11: Chatelaillon-Plage - Poitiers (167km)
Stage 12: Chauvigny - Sarran (218km)
Stage 13: Chatel-Guyon - Puy Mary (191km)
Stage 14: Clermont-Ferrand - Lyon (197km)
Stage 15: Lyon - Grand Colombier (175km)
Rest day in Isere
Stage 16: La Tour du Pin - Villard de Lans (164km)
Stage 17: Grenoble - Meribel (168km)
Stage 18: Meribel - La Roche-sur-Foron (168km)
Stage 19: Bourg-en-Bresse - Champagnole (160km)
Stage 20: Lure - La Planche des Belles Filles (36km, individual time trial)
Stage 21: Mantes-la-Jolie - Paris (122km)