The Tour’s Coming Stages
Lurch by lurch, two steps forward, one step back, life begins returning to some form of normality. Where I live, outside Paris, different levels of school will open shortly, travel restrictions will ease, and self-isolation will be cut back.
While that doesn’t sound like a mega shift in the landscape, it was enough to jump-start new demands to unleash the Tour de France. (A year without the Tour because of fears about the next wave of the coronavirus? Sheesh. A year without the Belgian semi-classics? What, no way to pack in the Vuelta’s visit to Portugal?)
Marc Madiot, the manager of the Groupama-FDJ team from France, was quick to respond once the Tour’s owners announced that they were planning a race from Aug. 29 to Sept. 20, two months behind original schedule.
“The Tour de France is vital for the world of cycling and for the morale of the French nation,” Madiot told France Info.
Isn’t he worried that the race will be less popular than usual because of restrictions on crowd sizes and worries about rider health?
“Absolutely not,” he replied. “I’m convinced it will be more popular. Even if there will be fewer people along the roads, in the hearts of the French, feelings will be stronger than usual. We’re coming out of a difficult period and there’s a lot of hope. I’m not at all worried.”
He isn’t, but Patrick Lefevere, the major-domo at Deceuninck in Belgium, is.
“It’s extremely important for the survival of our teams that we can dispute the most races affected,” he told Belgian media. “We must compensate for the lack of our sponsors’ visibility. If not, there will be victims. You don’t wish on your worst enemy what’s happening right now at CCC”— down the drain because of business losses and overall lack of success.
Any bright spots on the horizon? Sad to say, no. The medical experts offer little glimmer of a vaccine soon enough to counter a resurgence of the virus before the Tour target date, less than three months away.
From now till then, the best guide may be Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, the Swiss-American philosopher who defined the stages of tragic acceptance in her 1969 book “Death and Dying.”
These stages, she wrote, start with denial and then glide into anger, bargaining, depression, and ultimately acceptance. Figure out where the world of cycling is now and you’ll know where it’s headed.
Cover photo: Cor Vos