Dylan van Baarle (Team Ineos) has told the Dutch media that restrictions to keep the public socially distanced from the riders at the current Route d'Occitanie stage race in the south of France were not good enough following stage 2 on Sunday, and that measures to try to protect everyone involved in, or watching, the race against the coronavirus need to be improved.
The UCI and race organisers are having to follow strict protocols to ensure that the risks of any potential transmission is minimised at events, including riders being tested for COVID-19 before and during races, while fans have been restricted from entering certain sections of start and finish areas at events, and have had to practise social-distancing when cheering the riders from the roadside.
However, Van Baarle told Dutch public-service station NPO Radio 1 on Sunday that the public had been allowed to mix with the riders at the finish of stage 2 of the Route d'Occitanie in Cap Découverte.
"I experienced that today, yes," the Dutchman said. "It was strange. Our caregivers do everything they can to ensure that we have facemasks, and then people are still there trying to pull your water bottle off your bike.
"I think the restrictions here have been quite lax. I've also been surprised by how many people there are standing at the roadside without masks, too," Van Baarle told NPO, according to NOS.nl on Sunday, which also reported that Team Ineos had made an official complaint about the finish of stage 2, in particular, in the hope of the situation improving for the remainder of the race, which finishes in Rocamadour on Tuesday.
"If it's like this at the Tour de France, things are going to be very difficult," he added, with the Tour set to start in Nice later this month.
UCI president David Lappartient told Cyclingnews at Strade Bianche this weekend that he remained optimistic that the Tour will still go ahead, despite worries about a second wave of COVID-19 hitting Europe and the rest of the world.
Bahrain McLaren's Sonny Colbrelli won stage 2 of the Route d'Occitanie in Cap Découverte on Sunday, while the peloton faces a 163.5km third stage from Saint-Gaudens to the Col de Beyrède on Monday.
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