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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, March 27, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Success is often achieved by those who don't know that failure is inevitable. - Coco Chanel

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It's too early to decide whether Tour de France will run as scheduled

Raidió Teilifís Éireann, Ireland's National Public Service Broadcaster, posted this update:

It is premature to decide whether the Tour de France can go ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic, France's sports minister has suggested.

Tour de France

It's still too early to know if the Tour will be run as scheduled. Sirotti photo

Following the postponement of Euro 2020 and the Tokyo Olympic Games, the Tour de France - due to take place in June and July - is one of the last major global sporting events that has not yet been cancelled.

"The Tour is a sports monument. It is too soon to decide. There is a time for everything. For now, we have a more urgent battle to fight. Let us focus on this mountain in front of us and then consider what's next," French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu wrote on Twitter.

Late on Wednesday, radio station France Bleu quoted her as saying that France may consider organising the Tour without spectators, in order to minimise the risk of infection.

"In this period of confinement, everyone is aware and responsible," she told France Bleu.

"Everyone understood the benefits of staying at home and therefore favouring the television show rather than the live show."

The Giro d'Italia, which was due to take place in May, has been postponed, but no decision has been taken as yet on the Vuelta a Espana, scheduled to start on 14 August.

Jumbo-Visma sports director Zeeman: “Cycling team schedule can go into the trash can”

Here the update from Jumbo-Visma:

All the schedules that cycling team Team Jumbo-Visma had made for this season can be thrown away thanks to the corona crisis. With the strongest team ever, the Dutch team would take a shot at the final victory in the Tour de France, this summer. But for now, Tom Dumoulin, Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk are only working on maintaining their condition. Indoors or outdoors, depending on the country where they are staying.

Primoz roglic

Riders Like Primoz Roglic (shown at the 2019 Tre Valli Varesine) are simply working on maintaining their fitness.

“We don’t have a goal right now”, Merijn Zeeman, sports director of Team Jumbo-Visma, says to the general Dutch press office ANP. “When everything gets going again, we’ll have to go back to the drawing board.” According to Zeeman, a thorough preparation for the Tour requires six to eight weeks. That includes, for example, designated training. “For the time being, most of our riders only train on a bike roller.”

Team Jumbo-Visma decided to cancel their participation in races like Paris-Nice and Milan-Sanremo before the season had truly started. “We are a team that takes social responsibility. If we think that the health of the riders and staff, but in fact of society as a whole, is at risk, we don’t think we should be racing.” Zeeman doesn’t think he has to make the same decision about participating in the Tour. “For now I assume the UCI and the ASO (organiser of Paris-Nice, but also of the Tour) have learned from the mistake to let Paris-Nice continue.”

Zeeman and certainly the riders are waiting for a goal on the horizon. “Now training is, as far as possible, maintenance and perhaps also distraction. We realise that the chance of the Tour taking place is very small. Also because there can’t really be a fair competition.”

But what if the Tour disappears, but later, in August, the Vuelta will continue? Will the ‘dream team’ with which Jumbo-Visma wanted to go to the Tour go to Spain instead? Zeeman doesn’t rule out that possibility. “If they could cycle again, all the old plans would go to waste. Then there might also be a new cycling calendar.”

Bizarre times, says Zeeman, who hopes to get something positive out of it. “We’re now also starting up things like personality tests, we’re continue to work on the development of the food coach app so that we can say that we’ve not been idle when the world starts spinning again. It’s a pity, especially because we had big plans. But we are now facing a crisis on an unprecedented scale. There are more important things at the moment. They transcend this sport.”

Lotte Kopecky after Olympics postponement: "I understand, but I also felt ready for it."

Kopecky's Lotto-Soudal team posted this:

Lotte Kopecky wasn’t surprised when she heard the news this afternoon that the Olympic Games that should have taken place in Tokyo from 24 July till 9 August were postponed until 2021. She understands the decision in the light of the current corona crisis. Lotte would ride the madison, together with Jolien D’hoore. One of them would also take part in the omnium for Belgium.

Lotte Kopecky: “The past few days I already thought that the Olympic Games would be postponed. Especially after the Canadian Olympic Committee announced yesterday that they would not participate in the Olympics if those would take place this summer. There were similar signals from Australia and I read that an IOC member said the Games wouldn’t take place this year anymore. But the official news about the postponement came faster than expected.”

“Of course this is unfortunate, because just like all other athletes I was really looking forward to Tokyo 2020. I also felt ready for it, just like I was ready to tackle the Spring races. But health comes first. And that’s why I understand this decision. Also because not all athletes would have been able to prepare themselves for the Games in similar circumstances.”​​​​​​​

“It’s good that we now already know that the Games won’t take place this year and that it didn’t take more weeks before the decision was made final. Now we wait until we can race again. I took some rest the past week, with only power training and running sessions. This week I’ll get back on the bike. We’ll see when we can start racing again, but the main concern now is everybody’s health.”

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