France, Italy, and Spain have been three of the European countries that have been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. Each has struggled with getting the outbreak under control and it has taken weeks for them to “flatten the curve.” It now appears that things are slowly, but steadily, starting to improve there, with a glimmer of light appearing at the end of the tunnel. Those three countries also happen to be the hosts of the three biggest bike races in the world—the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, and Vuelta a Espana. The fate of these races—collectively known as cycling’s “Grand Tours”—has been up in the air thanks to the outbreak of COVID-19. But now, the organizers of Le Tour have announced new starting dates at long last, with the other two races to follow along behind them.
Even as the Olympics, Wimbledon, professional baseball, and a host of other pro sports announced postponements and cancellations, the organizers of the Tour de France have been very careful about revealing their plans. The race had already moved the start of the 2020 race into June to accommodate the Olympics that were to take place in Tokyo starting in early July. But as major sporting events fell of the calendar, the TdF remained steadfast in place, biding its time to see how things played out. As it turns out, a June start no longer looks particularly viable, so new dates have been announced at long last.
As of today, the 2020 Tour de France is now set to begin on August 29 and run through September 20. It will follow the course that was originally set for this year’s race, with the new dates buying two extra months of time for riders, organizers, and fans to get ready. By then, the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is expected to have past, although a second and third wave is not out of the question. Still, social distancing techniques will still have to be practiced, so how the race handles the crowds remains to be seen.
According to reports, the Giro—which had been postponed from its original May start—will now begin in October, with the Vuelta taking place in November. That makes for an odd season for sure, and could introduce some interesting weather elements to the races, but at least it means we’ll get the three Grand Tours this year after all. Most of the spring classic races have been cancelled too, and there was hope that they would return in the fall instead. If these dates hold however, there will be little room for those races on the calendar this year.
To reflect the changes, the official countdown clock on the Tour de France website has been updated. We all now have something to look forward to in August.
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