Deceuninck-QuickStep boss Patrick Lefevere says that he's struggling to see how all the postponed races can be squeezed into however many months end up being left of the 2020 season once the coronavirus pandemic is resolved.
The Belgian cycling federation announced on Wednesday that the nation's racing season would be extended until the end of October, in line with world governing body the UCI's announcement last week that it would be extending the season until November 1, but with the UCI announcing at the same time that there would be no racing until the end of April at the earliest.
"It's great that the season's been extended, although I can't see how you can fit the [already postponed] Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France, the Vuelta a España and the Classics into just a few months," Lefevere told Het Laatste Nieuws. "There are still so many questions: Will all the Grand Tours still have to last three weeks? Can the Ardennes Classics take place before the World Championships now that the Olympic Games have been cancelled? For those who don't ride the World Championships, can they do the Flemish Classics after the Worlds?"
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Coronavirus: Cookson suggests 2020 Grand Tours be reduced to two weeks
In terms of the three Grand Tours normally lasting three weeks, former UCI president Brian Cookson suggested to Cyclingnews on Wednesday that one solution could indeed be for the Giro, Tour and Vuelta to each be run over just two weeks, starting with the Tour in late July or August.
"I'm an optimist, but I don't see how they can justify running the Tour de France," Lefevere said of the not-yet-postponed race, which is currently set to take place from June 27-July 19. "What about the fans? Who can enter France and who can't? Are we really going to stuff the hotels with people? I can't imagine someone waving a magic wand in early July and the coronavirus crisis suddenly being resolved. So let us be sensible."
The French sports minister, Roxana Maracineanu, suggested on Wednesday that the Tour de France may be able to take place behind closed doors – that is, without any roadside fans – but her overriding message was that, despite ongoing meetings with race organisers ASO, nothing was going to be decided while the country, along with much of the rest of the world, is on lockdown due to the coronavirus.
Speaking more generally on how the racing shutdown has affected him and his Deceuninck-QuickStep team, Lefevere told HLN.be that the effects have been far-reaching.
"We have decided to pay everyone until the end of March anyway. We need to try to look at exactly how long the racing will stop for and then make some decisions in the coming months," he said. "Of course, we're saving money in some areas – in fuel and hotels – but, on the other hand, there's hardly any income. It's already cost us €500,000."
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