Groupama-FDJ manager Marc Madiot has said that he is open to the prospect of the 2020 Tour de France being held behind closed doors on account of the restrictions on public gatherings in France due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Technically, it wouldn’t be straightforward for ASO, but there is television and it would be a symbol: the beginning of some things starting up again," Madiot told Libération.
"For the economy of pro cycling and for the psychological wellbeing of the French people, it would be good to get back to the normal life of the country in July."
The cycling season is currently suspended, with the Spring Classics and Giro d’Italia among the races postponed to a later date, while the wider sporting calendar has also been redrawn amid international attempts to counter the spread of Covid-19.
The Euro 2020 football tournament and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have both been postponed until 2021, while the Rolland Garros tennis tournament has been put back to September.
For the time being, the 2020 Tour de France remains on the calendar, with the Grand Départ scheduled for Nice on June 27. France has over 29,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and is currently in a state of lockdown, but sports minister Roxana Maracineanu this week floated the idea of the Tour going ahead without spectators.
Maracineanu and the French government previously gave Tour organiser ASO the green light to run Paris-Nice even though they were rolling out progressively tighter restrictions on public gatherings as more and more cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the country.
Seven WorldTour teams declined to start Paris-Nice, while two more left before the race finished a day early at La Colmiane. ASO prohibited spectators from the start and finish areas, and scaled back podium ceremonies and media access.
The 2020 Tour, which criss-crosses the country during its 3,470km, would be exceedingly difficult to seal off, and the event’s place in the popular imagination in France and abroad owes much to the proximity of the riders with their public.
"Deep down, I only hope for one thing, that the Tour takes place in July," Madiot said.
"It’s a little light that does the morale some good. Even if that hope is distant, it’s also what we need at this moment. If the race can take place on the planned dates, that means that we will be envisaging a return to normal after the lockdown."