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Tour de France facing postponement as country extends coronavirus lockdown

PARIS FRANCE JULY 28 Maxime Monfort of Belgium and Team Lotto Soudal Enric Mas of Spain and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Tim Wellens of Belgium and Team Lotto Soudal Jens Keukeleire of Belgium and Team Lotto Soudal Kasper Asgreen of Denmark and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Most Combative Rider Yves Lampaert of Belgium and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Jasper De Buyst of Belgium and Team Lotto Soudal Peloton Sunset Arc De Triomphe during the 106th Tour de France 2019 Stage 21 a 128km stage from Rambouillet to Paris Champslyses TDF TDF2019 LeTour on July 28 2019 in Paris France Photo by Chris GraythenGetty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

After weeks of speculation over whether it will go forward, the Tour de France is facing official postponement as French President Emmanuel Macron declared on Monday that there will be no large public gatherings before mid-July to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tour de France was originally scheduled for June 27 to July 19 but plans were already underway for a postponement until later in July. Last week reports emerged with speculation of a July 25 start in Nice and a finish in Paris on August 16.

According to previous reports there was an agreement among the host cities to hold the race later in summer.

Organisers ASO said last month that the Tour de France would not take place 'behind closed doors' like Paris-Nice, which began before the strict limits on public gatherings were imposed.

Macron moved to extend the lockdown period for France through May 11 with only gradual lifting of the measures if the incidence of COVID-19 decreases.

The virus has killed over 14,000 people in France.

Schools, restaurants, cafés, cinemas and other leisure activities will remain closed through May 11 and there will be no summer festivals before mid-July. The move by the French government forces the hand of the ASO a month before they hoped to decide upon postponement.

ASO also runs the Critérium du Dauphiné, which was originally scheduled to take place from May 31 to June 7. However, ASO agreed with the UCI's decision to postpone races through until June 1 due to the coronavirus, including the Dauphiné. 

The eight-day race has historically been considered a build-up to the French Grand Tour, however, there will now be limited opportunity to reschedule it in July.