The scene was unusual to say the least, Sunday evening, on the Grande Boucle: a trainer from a team was waiting to be tested for Covid-19. He then shakes his head, before whispering “I am very afraid of the resultsFinally, the Tour de France riders all passed a covid detection test which gave a negative result for the whole peloton, the International Cycling Union announced on Monday.
>> Tour de France 2022: is Covid-19 threatening the Grande Boucle?
At the center of attention, Sunday July 10, 2022, this white tent placed on the edge of a small river, on a mountain road. As soon as the stage is over, the sweating runners pass one after the other to be tested for Covid-19, after abandonments due to the virus, and before a rest day in Haute-Savoie. One more cotton swab, of course, but above all a growing anger, as explained by Cyril Lemoine, of the B&B Hotels team. “It’s a bit fed up with all that, because it’s only us who make the effort. And besides, not everyone has a mask. Now, we are so in psychosis that we say to ourselves that we will catch the Covid and overnight, the Tour is over. Me, I still have a boss, a sponsor behind… There are a lot of issues“, he denounces.
A sign of general nervousness, each journalist who tries to approach the Covid tent is pushed back by the police. A nervousness shared by Benoît Cosnefroy, runner at AG2R-Citroën: “We’re all fed up. I’m not sure that tightening the health bubble even more is beneficial. We can see that there were almost no more constraints around us. And if we are the only ones to really live in autarky, it would surely be less pleasant to live too.”
So should we strengthen health measures on the Tour de France? On franceinfo, Cédric Vasseur, manager of Cofidis, who lost Guillaume Martin, positive for Covid-19, assures that “it’s not the spirit“competition.”There is a Damocles sword on our head. All the riders, all the staff members had been checked before the start in Copenhagen. In any case, we have further reinforced the measures. We try, as far as possible, to allow our runners to be alone in their room. But when we see the evolution of the epidemic outside the Tour de France, we are still entitled to have some fears”denounces the former cyclist.
Before continuing:We must not fall into psychosis either. You can have a stuffy nose, you can have a sore throat and not have Covid-19. If you take the train or the plane today, you will find that no one around you is wearing the mask.
“The fans who love cycling, who love the Tour de France, may have to take a little more measures. What they want above all is for the Tour de France to continue on its way, to arrive in Paris and have a great show.”Cedric Vasseur
“So maybe it goes through some slightly more restrictive measures, assures Cédric Vasseur. In any case, it is up to the organizers of the Tour de France to make the decision. Access to the paddock is still regulated. Some think it is not enough. You can’t live in a completely closed paddock either. This is not the spirit of the Tour de France. What is needed is simply to ensure that contamination is as low-risk as possible.“
LIVE – Will the Covid derail the #TDF2022 ? ➡️ “I hope not. There is a sword of Damocles above our heads”, for Cédric Vasseur, general manager of the Cofidis team, Guillaume Martin’s team who had to give up after being tested positive. pic.twitter.com/99gUsI75AC
— franceinfo (@franceinfo) July 11, 2022
The fault, therefore, of the spectators, very numerous on the edges of the roads? Not all of them, we retort in the peloton. But some a little too demonstrative amateurs among whom the mask has been abandoned. Glasses and cap, Christophe has everything to protect himself from the sun, but nothing against the Covid, like everyone, no mask by the roadside. “It is true that it can slow down a little to have masks. It constrains people a bit. It’s not too much in the spirit of the Tour, freedom, etc.“, he defends.
And that doesn’t stop André from trying to get as close as possible to the riders: “We are on the finish line! There, we come from afar anyway to see. And we would still like to see them close enough. We are in a festive, summer, outdoor context. It’s hard to see people wearing masks“, he assures.
A casualness that contrasts sharply with the tension that reigns within the teams, which, like the TotalEnergies training of Jean-René Bernaudeau; claim that the “we tighten the screw quickly“. Because, despite the negative tests, what everyone fears is a carnage among the runners.