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French cycling federation calls for training outdoors to be permitted from May 11

The peloton pass by the sunflowers during stage 11
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The French Cycling Federation (FFC) has called for its members to be allowed to ride outdoors once again from May 11, the date on which France’s current period of lockdown restrictions are scheduled to expire. In a statement on Saturday, the federation also outlined its intention for competition in France to resume as soon as possible while respecting the social distancing measures in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

“As a first sign of hope for our licence holders and for all cyclists, it is essential that the individual practice of cycling can be reintroduced from May 11,” read the FFC statement. “It would be unthinkable for the restrictions on the lone practice of cycling to be prolonged beyond this date, at a time when more and more voices, like that of the World Health Organisation, are being raised to highlight the benefits of cycling to public health.”

The FFC described the resumption of lone riding as the first part of what it couched as a “three-part plan.” The second element, the governing body said, would see cycling clubs granted permission to resume their activities

In the second step of what it termed a “three-stage plan,” the FFC expressed hope that cycling clubs in France would soon be permitted to resume their activities. “We’re working on a plan and our objective is to show that with easily applied social distancing measures, it is possible to practice cycling without exposing yourself or others to the risk of contamination.”

The third step of the FFC’s plan is the resumption of competition, which has been suspended in France since the middle of March.

“We are working to find new event formats that could fit within the health restrictions,” the FFC said.

L’Équipe reported on Saturday that individual time trials are likely to be the first road events to be sanctioned when the current restrictions on sport are eventually lifted in France.

It remains to be seen whether mass-start racing will be able to resume in France in 2020, though the postponed Tour de France was last week rescheduled for August 29-September 20. It is expected that a four-day version of the Critérium du Dauphiné will be given an August date on the revised calendar, while the national championships have been rescheduled for the week before the Tour de France.

“Our activities […] represent a strong, immediate and powerful tool to support the recovery of our country,” read the FFC statement.

“That is why we believe it is essential to be able to organise our competitions, in compliance with the health measures outlined by the state, as soon as possible. Through these events, we wish to give our competitors back their dreams, to start rebuilding the damaged ecosystem of the French Cycling Federation, and simply to play our part in rebuilding the momentum of our country.”