This article was published on April 1, 2020.
After the Paris-Dakar which had already taken the road to South America, and even Saudi Arabia for its last edition (the 42nd), the Tour de France is also preparing to export … in South Korea. Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) renounces the cycling event in France given the confinement and the “closed door” that the French government wanted to impose on the event. An untenable constraint for ASO. “The Tour needs an audience, cheers and an advertising caravan that can distribute goodies to the public at the roadside and partially finance the event,” said one at the organizer’s headquarters. of the Great Loop.
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Given the time difference (7 hours with Seoul), the stages will be retransmitted on France Télévisions. The event would however be reduced to two weeks starting from the Korean capital, which would host the first and the last stage. The organizers of the Great Loop contacted the office of the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, last week. The latter gave his agreement and assured the organizers of the provision of the police necessary to ensure the security of the course. The agreement of the mayor of Seoul, Park Won-soon, was also crucial in ASO’s decision to export the Great Loop under Asian skies.
Christian Estrosi deplores the decision
Naturally, the much better health situation in South Korea was the deciding factor. South Korea is much more resistant to coronavirus than most European countries. The authorities refused the policy of confinement and systematized the tests by making maximum use of digital tools and the wearing of a mask. So that the epidemic should be largely controlled by the time the runners set off at the end of June from Seoul, instead of the start scheduled for Nice. Warned Sunday evening, the mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, of course deplored the decision, but he received the promise that Nice would indeed be the starting city of the Tour 2021.
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The Tour in Asia will however take on a slightly different color due to the many rainy days at this time of year in South Korea. It rains about every other day. Of course, the relief of South Korea will not make it possible to reproduce the arrivals at the top of the Pyrenean or alpine passes, but the country does however conceal mid-mountain passes which can make the difference between Egan Bernal, Christopher Froom, Thibaut Pinot , Nairo Quintana, Geraint Thomas, Romain Bardet, etc.
The hotel infrastructure of South Korea can easily accommodate the professional platoon and the caravan. Nearly ten cities have more than one million inhabitants in South Korea. Cycling is not absent, since the country already has its own national “open” cycling tour (professional and amateur) since 2000.
Le Point wishes you a good April 1st!