The fans on the roadside are definitely less than usual at this Tour de France. That’s partly due to the pandemic. Many people shy away from traveling. But it is also because the tour started this year at the end of the school holidays and in the second week of the tour the classic holiday season is long over. Retirees in particular have time. Like Jacques. He is 67 years old and comes from Pau. He has put together a fan kit for Primoz Roglic. Every day he plants a banner with the name, the picture and the Slovenian flag of the tour favorite in front of his car. “I saw him train in Tignes, in the Alps. He’s just ready to win this tour, ”Jacques told“ nd ”. He travels after the tour and an idol – from Provence to the local Pyrenees to the Alps. “I’m already looking forward to Meribel, the Col de la Loze,” he says, looking ahead to the 17th stage. There, Jaques hopes, Roglic will make everything clear for the overall victory. He’s been following the tour all his life. In the pandemic season, he doesn’t want to make an exception.
Neither is Pascal. He and his wife Geraldine visit relatives in Gap. “We use the trip to go on a tour,” he says. They are well taken care of. The cool box is properly filled, the supply of beer seems inexhaustible. Pascal, Geraldine and brother-in-law Christian have brought their camping chairs with them. They form one of these otherwise so typical picnic groups on the edge of the route, which hardly exist this year. Sitting together, eating, drinking and waiting for the peloton – very few people indulge in this habit this year. Pascal’s group looks like a bunch of nostalgic people. They didn’t even put on their masks. “There is so much space here with the others,” dismisses Pascal and assures him: “When the drivers come, we’ll put them on.”
Pascal works in psychiatry. And what he tells about there makes the Tour de France a superfluous event. “Many facilities are closed due to the risk of infection. This is understandable on the one hand, and catastrophic on the other. Because those who are mentally ill have to be looked after by the families. And they are often overwhelmed by that, «he reports. That seems to be a problem across the country. On the edge of the tour you can see inscriptions that protest against the closure of hospitals and day clinics. At some stages, the protest graffiti on the walls were more numerous than the names of the professional cyclists written on the street to cheer them on. The Tour de France rolls through a sore country – at such moments this becomes particularly clear. All the more you can then treat the hospital employee Pascal to his beer on the edge of the tour route.