“The right thing to do is to cancel this edition. It’s a painful decision, but they have no choice, ”said Devi Sridhar in an interview with Cyclingnews , referring to the postponement of the Tour de France because of the coronavirus.
This public health expert, professor at the University of Edinburgh and adviser to the Scottish government, explains that the population flows could generate a new epidemic: “Thousands of people from all over the world are gathered there, move from city to city , this is where a virus could thrive. “
According to her, the holding of the 2020 edition could be the “recipe for a health disaster”. Due to the coronavirus, the race which was supposed to start at the end of June will finally run from August 29 to September 20.
Quarantine before departure?
“It’s a long-term problem, a chronic problem,” she adds. This virus is here to stay and it will come back. And even if France masters it by August, the problem is people who come from different countries. “According to her, all participants and workers of the Tour de France should confine themselves before the start of the race:” They should arrive two to three weeks before to have time to quarantine “.
Ideally, Sridhar believes that the organization should even test everyone in the convoy every day. A situation which she recognizes as very delicate to set up and in particular incompatible with the preparation of cyclists. Other preparation races must indeed take place in the weeks preceding the start of the Grande Boucle.
Ineos vigilant on the evolution of the situation
In this regard, the Ineos cycling team, purveyor of the winners of the last five Tours de France, will not participate in the rescheduled race at the end of the summer if the protection measures against the coronavirus seem insufficient to it, declared Friday its manager Dave Brailsford.
“We reserve the right to withdraw if we feel it is necessary” and especially if the risk is not treated “in an appropriate, intelligent and responsible manner,” he told the Guardian. “As long as the race is on the program, we plan to participate, but, at the same time, we will observe the way things will evolve,” he added, saying that it was a “sensible, responsible attitude and reasoned ”.
All editions of the Tour de France since 2012 except one (2014) have been won by a rider of the British team, previously named Sky. Dave Brailsford was joined by US Education First team manager Jonathan Vaughters, whose team also expects convincing risk “mitigation measures” well before departure.