Peter Sagan, Daniel Oss, Elia Viviani, Nicolas Roche and Alessandro De Marchi and other riders have savoured their first rides outdoors for almost two months after strict COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in Italy, Spain, Monaco and Andorra on Monday.
While training outdoors was permitted in Belgium, the Netherlands, the USA and Britain, during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, most other riders have been forced to train on home trainers indoors.
Italy eased its national lockdown on Monday, while Spain gave professional athletes special dispensation to train outdoors after deciding time slots for the general population to exercise outdoors. Andorra followed Spain's decision, pleasing the many professional riders who have been holed up in the Pyrenean microstate.
Monaco allowed outdoor sport but French riders will have to wait until May 11 for their restrictions to end and normal training routines to return. With races not expected to return until at least August 1 and with the Tour de France now scheduled for August 29-September 20, riders will have around 12 weeks to work on their form. Most have been riding to maintain their base fitness and weight, while working on the core strength.
The likes of Chris Froome (Team Ineos) and Michael Woods (EF Pro Cycling) have used the lockdown to recover from their injuries, with Froome spending hours on the home trainer and gym in his personal pain cave as he completes his rehabilitation after his terrible Criterium du Dauphine crash of 2019. Woods crashed during stage 5 of Paris-Nice, fracturing his femur but is back riding on the home trainer.
Sagan rode Paris-Nice but has preferred to keep a low profile since early March as a sign of respect for the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. With cycling now allowed in Monaco, he headed out for a ride on Monday, with what looked like a home-made face mask decorated with his 'Why so serious' saying. France remains in strict lockdown and so Sagan was obliged to stay within in the principality.
"Today is the first day I can go and ride the bicycle but just in Monaco," Sagan said
"I hope everything is going to be fine. I can’t wait to do my first pedaling after seven weeks. Outside… Wow! So stay good and see you soon I hope."
Nicolas Roche is also based in Monaco and has enjoyed some successful virtual racing during the lockdown. He opted not to ride around the streets of the principality just yet, perhaps preferring to wait for the end of the French lockdown on May 11 so he can go on long rides into the South of France.
"So from today we can go out on the road. Unfortunately only within the principality. I guess I might stick to the ergo one more week. Been seven weeks, can survive eight. Although might go for a stroll or two just to get a bit of fresh air and learn to brake again," Roche wrote on social media.
Sagan's Bora-Hansgrohe teammate and loyal domestique Oss made an amusing video diary of his return to outdoor riding, joking how he had forgotten how to ride out on the road.
De Marchi was more emotional and nostalgic, revealing in a video how he headed to his favourite climb of Chialminis north of Udine in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeast Italy.
"Back in the 'office' and I had to start here, on my favourite climb. Enjoy our earth everyone!" the CCC Team rider wrote on Instagram.
Elia Viviani (Cofidis) was pleased to ride outdoors once again but called on his followers to be smart because the battle against the COVID-19 virus is not yet won.
"Ready to do cycling outdoors? Cycling means freedom, a unique thing that we must hang on. We have to continue to use our head because the battle against the COVID-19 is not over," he wrote on social media.
First time I can go on my bike outside, after seven weeks. For the moment, I can only ride in Monaco but I'm sure it will be great. See you soon! @BORAhansgrohe pic.twitter.com/xBhNbj6h6DMay 4, 2020
🎥 Over in Italy, @Daniel87Oss has been trying his best to keep entertained while inside, but today he's experiencing his first taste of freedom for a while.See what happens... and be sure to watch this one til the end!Mamma mia! 😅Video: Daniel Oss pic.twitter.com/WH80hJXektMay 4, 2020
Di nuovo in ufficio, e non potevo rinunciare a ripartire da qui, dalla mia salita preferita. Godetevi la vostra terra ragazzi! ——————————————————— Back in the office. Couldn’t avoid to restart from my favourite climb. Enjoy your places guys! @cccteam @cccshoesbags @giantbicycles @etxeondo @giantbicyclesitaly @cadexcycling @oakleybike @fvglive @igersfvg @igersud @regionefvg @fci_fvg @federciclismo_official @federciclismo @montagne_fvg @i_comelli_agriturismo @consorziofriulicolliorientali #fvg #fvglive #chialminis #friuliveneziagiulia #cccteam #etxeondo #giantbikes #gianttcr #cccshoesbags #oakley #cadexcycling #rossodibuja Alessandro De Marchi
A photo posted by @alessandro_demarchi on May 4, 2020 at 5:59am PDT
Pronti a tornare a pedalare all’aperto? Andare in bici significa libertà, una cosa unica che dobbiamo tenerci stretta. Usiamo sempre la testa perché la battaglia contro il COVID-19 non è terminata. — Ready to do cycling outdoors? Cycling means freedom, a unique thing that we must hang on. We have to continue to use our head because the battle agains the COVID-19 is not over. Elia Viviani
A photo posted by @eliaviviani on May 4, 2020 at 1:03am PDT