The Tour de France tries to create bubbles: Right inside is the 660 person bubble made up of drivers and supervisors. Another is represented by the staff of the organization as well as the media and finally the audience. The most visible sign of the separation of these four bubbles is more metal. The number of barriers has increased. Journalists are kept in one-person boxes in the interview zone. In addition, fewer audiences are allowed in the start and finish area. The fans only stand in rows of one instead of five or ten as they are used to from previous years. On the way, on the open road and when driving through town, you will also see fewer people. The number of mobile homes has also been reduced to around a tenth.
However, the bubbles do not remain completely separate. Journalists and employees of the organization eat in the same restaurants in the evening and are housed in the same hostels. You will also be in public places with the population and tourists. All of this may still be justifiable. The fact that some fans then stand on the side of the road without a mask worries the drivers. “It would be better if everyone wore a mask. Sometimes it is not half a meter that we have from the fans when we drive through the villages or up the mountains, “says Roger Kluge from Berlin – and then launches an appeal:” We are driving in a special situation. Only if everyone abides by the rules can the risk be minimized. “
Even the professional cyclists themselves wear masks. Not in the race. “But otherwise we wear them almost everywhere: on the bus, in front of the registered mail and also in the hotel,” says Kluge. Otherwise, life inside the innermost bubble has hardly changed, he assures. “We already had single rooms and an extra dining room for each team last year,” says Kluge. Hand disinfectants have long been part of the standard equipment as a precaution against classic viral diseases in the emaciated bodies of tour drivers.
The source of the greatest uncertainty, however, is the false-positive tests that led to the premature departure of drivers and supervisors of some teams from test races in the weeks before the Tour of France. They tested positive and sent home, but all follow-up tests were negative. Therefore, the French authorities now allow quick follow-up tests in the event of positive results. If they are also positive or if there is not enough time before the start of the next stage, the person concerned must leave the tour. If there are two positive cases within seven days in the same team, it will be completely removed from the tour. “This is a compromise that we can live with,” says Ralph Denk, Bora-hansgrohe team leader for the “nd”.
Nobody knows whether the tour will even reach Paris on September 20th. Not even David Brailsford, the brain behind the seven Tour de France victories of his team in the past eight years. “Nobody knows if we’re going to Paris,” said the boss of the team Ineos. He ruled out that this uncertainty would change tactics. “We’ll do the tour as if it would last three weeks,” he said. You see it similarly with challenger Jumbo-Visma. “We have no plan to take on the yellow jersey early in the race in the event that the tour is canceled after a week and a half,” said co-captain Tom Dumoulin. The former Giro d’Italia winner said: “A winner after a week and a half would not be a real winner. Because then it would not be a Grand Tour, but a ten-day race. That’s something completely different. ”Nevertheless, no escape group was left out for more than five minutes during the first few days and caught up again early. Nils Politt from Cologne also didn’t get a chance on the fourth stage. Instead, favorite Promiz Roglic (Slovenia) won the first mountain finish in Orcieres.
There is no precise regulation as to how many racing days a Grand Tour counts as such and the entire prize money – 500,000 euros to the winner alone – does not exist. The world association allows the termination under special circumstances. The race stewards then decide whether the results are canceled or intermediate results are counted.