Geraint Thomas is hopeful the Tour de France can be rearranged for later in the summer as cycling’s biggest race faces postponement or even cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 107th edition of the Tour was set to begin in Nice on June 27 and conclude in Paris on July 19, but French president Emmanuel Macron has said there can be no mass gatherings in the country until at least mid-July.
The Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) which stages the race has said it has no immediate plans to make any official announcements as it continues to look at contingency plans.
With viewing figures and coverage which dwarfs all other races, the Tour is seen as vital to the economics of road cycling and every effort will be made to stage it in some form.
“It’s the pinnacle of cycling,” said Thomas, who won the Tour in 2018 before finishing second to Ineos team-mate Egan Bernal last summer. “It represents the sport and certainly it’s the thing that’s keeping me going at the minute.
“You’ve just got that target down the line. It’s hard when you don’t know when it’s going to be to try and stay in that positive frame of mind.
“In my head I’m just thinking the Tour is definitely going to happen. I don’t know when but hopefully it does. It would be great for everyone.”
Both Thomas and Bernal are targeting the Tour, as is four-time winner Chris Froome, who has made it the focal point of his comeback from career-threatening injuries suffered in last year’s Criterium du Dauphine.
ASO has already ruled out the idea of attempting to stage the race behind closed doors, and has been speaking to local authorities due to host stages about alternative dates.
Official Communication: After consultation with the relevant authorities, The Union Cycliste Internationale and the Ville de Nice, the organisers of Paris-Nice have decided that 7th stage, finishing at Valdebore la Colmiane, will be the last of the race.
— Paris-Nice (@ParisNice) March 13, 2020
Cycling’s WorldTour has been on hiatus since Paris-Nice finished a day early on March 14, with all subsequent races either postponed or cancelled up to late June, with the Tour the next race left on the schedule.
World governing body the UCI has said it is working with stakeholders to draw up a new road racing calendar for 2020, giving priority to the Grand Tours and one-day Monuments.
A report in Spanish newspaper La Marca suggested a revised calendar could see the Tour take place in August, the Vuelta a Espana moved back a month to September, and the Giro d’Italia – which had been due to begin in Budapest on May 9 – shifted to October.