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Cancelling Le Tour would have threatened teams' existence: race director

The International Cycling Union (UCI) have confirmed that the start of this year's Tour de France has been postponed to August 29. 

As reported on Off The Ball yesterday, the race will still have its Grand Depart in Nice and the traditional finish on the Champs-Élysées on September 20.

The race was originally due to begin on June 27, but all mass gatherings in France are banned until mid-July at the earliest.

Race director Christian Prudhomme told Reuters that discussions over a postponement had been ongoing for a month, "We started to talk about a postponement to the local politicians as soon as March 18 - a day after France was put in lockdown - and all of them were on board."

"Everyone in the world of cycling supported the idea, even those who usually don’t like us", Prudhomme added.

"Some teams said they would have to close down without the Tour in 2020."

“The Tour is the base of the revised calendar."

He says earlier start dates had been discussed but ultimately ruled out to allow riders adequate preparation time.

Prudhomme says that the route will be 99 per cent the same, but stipulates, "The only thing we might have to change sometimes is when we go through bigger cities."

The 59-year old called 49 local politicians on Wednesday to inform them of the changes.

Prudhomme says safety measures will almost certainly be in place by the time Le Tour starts, "We will follow recommendations, just like we did for Paris-Nice in March. At the start, gatherings of more than 5,000 were banned and after a couple of days we had to adapt because the maximum was 1,000."

While the bulk of the UCI's calendar has undergone major surgery, the 2020 UCI Road World Championships will still be held in Switzerland from September 20 (the day of the Tour's finish) to September 27.

The postponed Giro D'Italia will follow the World Championships, with the Vuelta a España coming after the Giro.

The UCI also state that, "The most prestigious one-day road races (the Monuments), ie Milano-Sanremo (Italy), the Tour des Flandres (Belgium), Paris-Roubaix (France), Liège-Bastogne-Liège (Belgium) and Il Lombardia (Italy), will all take place this season, at dates still to be defined."

Prudhomme hopes that the postponed Critérium du Dauphiné can be held in August as a warm-up for the Tour, even if it's in a shorter format, "maybe five or six days instead of eight".

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Christian Prudhomme Coronavirus Covid-19 David Lappartient Tour De France UCI

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