The Coronavirus Tour

The race starts today in Nice amid the doubts generated by the pandemic. Bernal and Roglic start as favorites. Everything will be decided in the last week.


The 2020 Tour de France starts today in Nice. The most important race, in the middle of the biggest health and economic crisis in a century due to the coronavirus pandemic. The lifeline for a sport that depends more than any other on its sponsors and television visibility. Christian Prudhomme, director of the round, and David Lappartient, president of the International Cycling Union (UCI), did not tire of repeating it during the months of confinement: "Saving the Tour means saving cycling." In fact, the express and compressed calendar was built around the Tour. But the previous runrún is not aimed at discussing the favorites: the peloton fears that the competition will not end in Paris because of the evolution of the virus.

The department of the Alpes-Maritimes, to which Nice belongs, has been in the red zone since Thursday. Two members of the Lotto Soudal staff tested positive in the PCR tests carried out since Wednesday. The health protocol, which at first would have prevented the Belgian team from taking the start for its two cases, was relaxed to the point that there will only be expulsions with two positives of runners in a period of less than a week. The organization conveys the impression that the Tour has to go forward as it may, even if the caravan is reduced by 40%, to only 3,000 accredited people. Of course, it also slides that the hand will not shake to put the brake.

Despite the absences due to poor form in the line-up of Ineos de Froome, four-time champion, and Thomas, winner in 2018, and that of Kruijswijk in the Jumbo due to injury, the fight for the yellow jersey is presented as a train crash between the two squads, with Bernal (defending title), Carapaz and Sivakov on one side, and Roglic, Dumoulin and Bennett on the other. Of course, with a margin for Pinot, Landa, Buchmann, Nairo, Pogacar, Superman, Mas ...

The Tour will enter the five main mountain ranges of the country: the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Massif Central, the Jura and the Vosges. On the second day there will already be 3,500 meters of unevenness, and on the fourth there will be the first high altitude finish in Orcières Merlette. However, the race will be decided in the final week, with the Alps and the La Planche time-trial on the penultimate day, the only stage fighting the clock. A path for climbers. For the brave. But all you have to risk on the road should not turn into recklessness off the fences, in the midst of a global pandemic. The show starts this afternoon. How it will conclude is unknown.

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