Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme is urging spectators at this year's race to wear masks to respect the riders and the event while the dangers of the coronavirus still persist. At the same time, the Critérium du Dauphiné – which starts in Clermont Ferrand on Wednesday, and is run by Tour organisers the ASO – will act as a dress rehearsal for La Grande Boucle later this month.
"There will be people along the side of the road at the Tour de France, and apart from at the starts, the finishes and on the climbs, where there will be restrictions, life will go on as normal elsewhere. That's why we're calling for people to please wear masks," Prudhomme told French newspaper Nice-Matin on Tuesday.
"If you love the Tour and its champions, wear a mask when you're cheering from the side of the road," he said. "And that's really not only in those areas, at the starts and finishes, where it will be enforced; we want people to wear them everywhere."
Prudhomme likened this year's Tour to a number of other international sporting events, such as the biggest tennis or football competitions, which don't allow the kind of athlete-fan interaction normally enjoyed by professional cycling.
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"This won't be the year to ask for autographs or 'selfies'," he said. "The riders will still say hello from a distance, but these measures are the only reason they won't come across as friendly as they normally are. It will be more like at Wimbledon or at a Champions League final, where you can't get an autograph from Roger Federer or Lionel Messi in the morning. But once the coronavirus pandemic is over, the Tour will return to normal, with the kind of magnificent interactions that we're used to."
This week's Critérium du Dauphiné will already instigate the same measures that are to be used at this year's Tour, as the Dauphiné's race director, Thierry Gouvenou, explained in an ASO press release on Tuesday, with the participating teams having had the measures explained to them the same day.
"The Dauphiné will be a competition-level run-through and a rehearsal of the safety measures," Gouvenou said. "We're creating a 'bubble', with very little interaction with the media, the race guests and the fans. The [team bus] parking areas will be closed at the starts and at the finishes, and we'll have a 'mixed zone' with specific rules for interviews.
"We're also limiting the number of people who are allowed to access the area after the finish line. Out on the route, the fans won't be allowed in the feed zone, and we have more 'waste zones' for the riders," he added, referring to the areas where riders can jettison unwanted food wrappers.
"It's going to be the same for the podium protocol: no kisses, no interaction between the [sponsorship] partners, the local representatives and the riders. And face masks will be mandatory all along the race route, where local-authority decrees apply," Gouvenou said, with the hope that the public on the roadside will wear masks, just as Prudhomme has called for at the Tour.
The Tour organisers have also adopted France's Ligue Nationale de Cyclisme's policy for the Dauphiné and Tour, which already applies to all French bike races, whereby '2020' stands for keeping 2 metres away from the riders at all time, asking for 0 autographs, remembering 2 vital habits – to use antibacterial hand gel and to always wear a mask – and to take 0 'selfies' with the riders.
🤩 The 2020 #Dauphiné starts tomorrow! So that it all goes smoothly, adopt good behaviours and respect the guidelines and rules throughout the entire race.2⃣ m from the riders0⃣ autograph2⃣ key actions: use hand sanitiser and wear a mask throughout the entire race0⃣ selfie pic.twitter.com/SPB0S8Y6bwAugust 11, 2020