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French Championships likely to remain in Brittany despite Plumelec withdrawal

Warren Barguil won the French men's road race in 2019
Warren Barguil won the French men's road race in 2019 (Image credit: Getty Images)

Plumelec has confirmed that it will not host the 2020 French national championships, but the event is likely to go ahead elsewhere in the Morbihan department in Brittany on the weekend preceding the Tour de France.

Originally scheduled for this week, the French Championships were postponed to August 21-23 when the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the cycling season in March.

Due to the restrictions on public gatherings in France until August 31, however, Plumelec mayor Stéphane Hamon called for the cancellation of the event. Ouest France reports that on Monday evening, the municipal council of Plumelec voted against hosting the French Championships in 2020.

In a statement issued on social media on Tuesday, the French Cycling Federation (FFC) said that it was seeking an alternative venue in the Morbihan department for the national road championships, as it pushed to ensure the even would be held at the same time as other championships across Europe as per the new UCI calendar.

“The French Cycling Federation, the National Cycling League and the Local Organising Committee have taken note of the decision of the town council of the commune of Plumelec not to host the 2020 French Road Championships,” read the statement.

“An alternative solution, subject to the approval of the Prefecture of Morbihan, is currently being studied in the department of Morbihan for the scheduled dates of August 21, 22 and 23.”

The new parcours is likely to be flatter than the course for puncheurs that had been planned in Plumelec. The course was centred around the Côte de Cadoudal, where Erik Zabel beat Frank Vandenbroucke on the 1997 Tour de France, and where Alejandro Valverde claimed the first maillot jaune eleven years later. The ascent last featured on the Tour in 2015, when it provided the finale to the stage 9 team time trial.

Ouest France reports that a decision on the new location for the French Championships is likely to be taken before June 20, and the newspaper named Sarzeau – where UCI president David Lappartient in mayor – among the possible candidates.

The UCI last week confirmed that the weekend of August 22-23 has been allotted to national championships, despite RCS Sport’s request to hold Milan-San Remo on the week preceding the Tour de France. Milan-San Remo has instead been scheduled for August 8, with Il Lombardia fixed for August 15.

Brittany is already set to host two international events in the week preceding the Tour, which is due to get underway in Nice on August 29. The Bretagne Classic in Plouay is scheduled for August 25, with the women’s GP de Plouay - Lorient Agglomération Trophée to take place the following day.

Plouay is also in line to host the European Championships from August 24-28 after Trento withdrew due to the coronavirus restrictions in place in the Trentino region of Italy. Trento will instead host the 2021 European Championships.