• Mitchelton-Scott head sport director Matt White says the 2020 Tour de France field would be the best ever but should only be held if there's racing in May (Getty)Source: Getty
If this year's Tour de France goes ahead, it will have the best field ever, says Mitchelton-Scott head sport director Matt White. But he raises a few doubts and caveats.
Cycling Central

1 Apr 2020 - 7:58 AM  UPDATED 1 Apr 2020 - 8:08 AM

'Whitey' says with the Giro not in its traditional May fixture and no Olympic Games, strong, big-name riders will be competing for Tour de France spots. 

“The Giro has never not been on before the Tour de France, and because we’ve been starved of a couple of months of racing in spring, people aren’t going to be ‘sitting out’ to wait for the Vuelta.

"In a normal season this happens because they’ve already ridden the Giro, or a young rider can wait for the Vuelta because they’ve had a lot of racing in spring."

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Last week, French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu said Tour organisers, the ASO were looking at running the three-week race as scheduled but 'behind closed doors' (without crowds). The ASO subsequently indicated they will make a decision by 15 May. 

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While White believes the coronavirus situation will have died down considerably by July, he doubts the safety of a Tour de France behind closed doors. 

“Will (things) have calmed down enough to safely support a couple of thousand people, coming together from different parts of Europe and the world, for the Tour de France?

“We’re not talking about 4-5 venues, we are a travelling circus. We’re talking about 2000 people; teams, media, logistics and movement between 20 hotels over 25 days.

“Safety has to remain the priority."

The Aussie sport director also said the Tour should not go ahead if there is no racing preceding it. 

"If athletes aren’t on the road by May, there’s no way you can run competition in June. We have to have some competition before the Tour de France.

"You can’t have the Tour de France as the first race. That doesn’t work for the riders, simple as that."

“The next four to five weeks are crucial, that the virus infections come down to a very low level in Europe.

"At the moment we’re not seeing that, and I would think that as it stands at the moment, it would be pretty hard to run the Tour de France at the current dates starting at the end of June."

Meanwhile, 2019 Tour de France champion Egan Bernal says the Tour de France should be delayed.

"This enforced stop is affecting all of us," Cyclingnews quotes the Ineos leader's live Colombian Cycling Federation Instagram Q and A session. "Even for the Tour de France if it happens in July because one or another contender may not be up to it for then as their build-ups will be different."

"It could be better if it was delayed."

Bernal says he is currently taking a rest from both mental and physical training. 

"I had a good build-up for Paris-Nice, then I went on the rollers when I got back to Colombia. But afterwards, I decided with the trainer that it would be for the best to rest up right now."

(For the full interview with Matt White on the Mitchelton-Scott website, click here)