Two months late and under a new rise in COVID-19 cases, the 107th edition of the Tour de France took its first step towards the Grand Départ as the 22 teams competing in the race were presented to a minimal public presence on Place Masséna in Nice on Thursday.
The riders rolled through the square, which was blocked off by opaque barriers to stop people from gathering, with only gendarmes where there would normally be fans, VIPs and riders' families sending them off for three weeks of racing.
The organisers allowed in a small crowd – with masks and social distancing enforced – in front of the stage for a highly unusual teams presentation.
The Ineos Grenadiers team debuted their new kit to the public for the first time. Defending champion Egan Bernal gave a short interview, saying he has confidence in his team – which is lacking the 2018 champion Geraint Thomas and four-time winner Chris Froome, both of whom were not selected.
"We have been preparing for this race since last year, so I think we have a really good team to fight for the GC, and I'm really confident of what we did at home [training], so I hope to give some good emotions for all of you," Bernal said.
Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) is another the pre-race favourite, despite his heavy crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné, and his participation was in some doubt until he climbed onto the stage on Thursday.
"I'm happy that I've managed to be at the start of the Tour de France", Roglic said. "I take it as a good news. It's nice to be here in Nice."
His teammate, Tom Dumoulin, highlighted the absence of Steven Kruijswijk, injured in a different crash at the Dauphiné, saying the race wouldn't be the same without him.
"His absence forces us to change our tactics a little bit. Now it's Primoz or me who'll go for GC. Our aim is to be close to the podium in the last week of the Tour," Dumoulin said.
In all, 176 riders will take the start in Nice on Saturday for a quick, hilly, technical 156km opening stage around the city on the south coast of France.
Click or swipe through the gallery above to see the teams presentation of the 107th Tour de France.
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