• Egan Bernal may not make it to the 2020 Tour de France start line to defend his crown (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Egan Bernal may not make it to the Tour de France start line to defend his crown as Colombia bans all travel until 31 August, two days after the scheduled start of the 2020 edition, Cyclingnews reports.
Cycling Central

Cyclingnews, Reuters
22 May 2020 - 10:08 AM  UPDATED 22 May 2020 - 5:53 PM

Giuseppe Acquadro, agent to many Colombian riders including Bernal, Nairo Quintana and Rigoberto Uran told Cyclingnews an exemption would need to be granted for his riders' participation in the 2020 Tour de France, but at this stage it is not guaranteed. 

While hopeful they can secure special permission to travel to Europe on a private jet, much depends on the Colombian government as the nation bears down on its coronavirus fight.

"Let's hope they will be given special permission to travel," Acquadro said. "I think they will be. They're athletes but racing in Europe is also their work, so it's important to them."

"The Colombian government knows that Egan, Nairo, Rigo and the other riders competing at the Tour de France and in Europe is good for the morale of the country during the COVID-19 problems, so I think they'll given them special dispensation to travel. 

"Rigoberto Uran has a great relationship with the President and the Minister of Sport, I'm sure he can help find a solution. The riders might need to undergo tests to show they don't have the virus and travel all together but that's not a problem."

But it may not be that easy, even for Colombia's first Tour de France victor, as the nation works hard to keep its coronavirus death rate low relative to its population.

"The restriction on international air transport goes hand in hand with the health emergency," Colombian Minister of Transportation Angela Maria Orozco told Reuters when imposing the travel ban.

"Until (August 31) the restoration of international flights are not expected."

Colombia has recorded 18,330 coronavirus cases and 652 deaths in a population of some 50m people. 

Riders like Bernal, Quintana and Uran all made it back home to Colombia before much of Europe implemented a strict lockdown.