Tour de France could still go ahead as Vuelta a Espana cancels race start

By Matt WarwickBBC Sport
Tour de France
British Team Ineos (formerly Team Sky) have won the past five Tours

The Tour de France could still go ahead despite more sanctions on mass gatherings by the French government.

Cycling's biggest race was set to start two months late, on 29 August, because of coronavirus, but the government ban has extended until September.

"The Tour de France has not been called into question," said French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu.

The Vuelta a Espana also announced it would cancel its departure from the Netherlands, set for 14 August.

Maracineanu added: "There will not be any large gatherings before September but with the Tour starting on 29 August, there could be adjustments. It is up to [organisers] ASO to make some suggestions."

ASO chose not to comment.

The Tour, won by Team Ineos' Egan Bernal last year, was originally scheduled to run from 27 June to 19 July.

Many large-scale sporting events scheduled to take place this summer have either been called off, such as Wimbledon, or pushed back by a year, such as football's European Championship and the summer Olympics.

The Vuelta, also run by Tour organisers ASO, was scheduled to set off from Utrecht but that leg of the three-week event has been cancelled. The race will now run across 18 stages - three fewer than planned - starting in the Basque country, northern Spain.

Cycling's governing body the UCI was expected to release a revised calendar for the men's and women's road cycling 2020 season on Wednesday, but have pushed that date back to 5 May.

Four-time winner Chris Froome is set to return at this year's Tour, which will start in Nice, after he missed the 2019 race following a high-speed accident in which he broke his neck, femur, elbow, hip and ribs.

Alongside the Tour and the Vuelta, the remaining Grand Tour race - the Giro d'Italia - also awaits rescheduling after being postponed from its May start date in Hungary.

The women's version of the Tour de France, La Course by le Tour de France, was initially scheduled to take place over one day on 19 July on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

But organiser ASO said it will also be postponed and instead take place "during the Tour de France 2020".

The Road World Championships, which will be held in Switzerland, remain in their 20-27 September slot.

The postponed 'monument' one-day races - Milan-San Remo, Liege-Bastonge-Liege, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix - "will all take place this season, at dates still to be defined", said the UCI.

On 10 April, the UCI furloughed staff and cut the salaries of senior employees as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.