Cycling’s governing body trying to ensure three Grand Tours go ahead this season

The Giro d’Italia scheduled for May has been postponed, while the Vuelta a España and Tour de France are under severe threat

 Colombia’s Egan Bernal cycles  down the Champs-Élysées during the  last stage of the Tour de France in 2019. There are real prospects that this year’s Tour   will be put on hold. Photograph: Getty Images

Colombia’s Egan Bernal cycles down the Champs-Élysées during the last stage of the Tour de France in 2019. There are real prospects that this year’s Tour will be put on hold. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Following on from the cancellation of a number of key events in cycling, the world governing body UCI has taken steps to try to ensure that the three Grand Tours go ahead at some point this season.

The Giro d’Italia scheduled for May has already been postponed, while all other racing is off at least until the end of April.

The UCI announced this week that it will do its utmost to facilitate the running of the three week tours, saying that it is prepared to rejig the calendar and, if necessary, extend the road season until November 1st.

It said that priory would be given to the events already on the calendar once racing resumes, as well as the Grand Tours and cycling’s Monument Classics.

The Giro d’Italia had been due to start in Hungary on May 9th and to return to Italy three days later. However, the country is in the midst of a huge crisis due to Covid-19, with 475 deaths announced on Wednesday. Over 2,500 health workers have also been infected by the virus, affecting the country’s ability to deal with new cases.

Spain, which is due to host the Vuelta a España in August and September, is also overwhelmed. It is the fourth worst affected country in the world, and by Thursday had lost over 760 people. There are over 17,000 cases there. The authorities have imposed serious restrictions on the movement of its citizens in a bid to contain the epidemic, and professional cyclists living in Girona and elsewhere have been instructed not to train outside.

Although the chances of catching coronavirus while training solo is minuscule, the cyclists have been told that getting involved in any accidents would further add to an already overwhelmed medical system.

Like the Vuelta a España, the Tour de France is also under severe threat. ASO, which organises the Tour, was already forced to shorten the Paris-Nice event by one day this month, and to prevent the public from being able to access the start and finish areas in order to limit crowd sizes.

Since then it has postponed the running of Paris-Roubaix, which was originally scheduled for April 12th, as well as the men’s and women’s Flèche Wallonne 10 days later.

The men’s and women’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 26th is also on hold, as is ASO’s Tour de Yorkshire in England.

The Tour de France is scheduled to start in Nice on Saturday, June 27th. However, France is also suffering: on Wednesday the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 jumped 1,404 to a total of 9,134. Some 89 people died, bringing the total toll to 264.

Although ASO is hoping for now that the Tour de France will continue as planned in its original time slot, there are real prospects that it will be put on hold.

The Tour has only ever been curtailed by the two world wars. It was not held between 1915 and 1918, and was also off between 1940 and 1946.

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