Tour de Farce: Strict COVID Restrictions Including Masks, Social Distancing Return for Riders in Cycling Classic

CHAMPAGNOLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 18: Start / Enric Mas Nicolau of Spain and Movistar Team / Mask / Covid safety measures / Team Presentation / during 107th Tour de France 2020, Stage 19 a 166,5km stage from Bourg en Bresse to Champagnole 547m / #TDF2020 / @LeTour / on September …
Tim de Waele/Getty

Organisers of the Tour de France cycling classic have drawn up a host of new coronavirus protocols for the 2023 edition of the event in a return to impositions for riders and team officials not seen since the height of the pandemic.

The new rules include – but are not limited to – impositions on riders, team staff and officials who are set to wear face masks at sign-on and in the team paddock, while riders will be banned from signing autographs, eating out or taking selfies with fans.

Riders will also not be allowed to leave their hotels once sent there for the night.

The Reuters news agency first revealed the new COVID-19 protocols, while similar, more stringent rules were introduced for stage 1 of the Criterium du Dauphine race last week.

At last year’s race, riders and team staff were allowed to leave their hotels, with some opting to visit local restaurants.

File/Carlos Barbero of Spain and Team Qhubeka NextHash at start during the 108th Tour de France 2021, Stage 11 a 198,9km km stage from Sorgues to Malaucène on July 07, 2021 in Malaucene, France. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Access to the team paddock, where the buses are, was also open to media and VIP guests, until the organisers introduced stricter measures halfway through the race.

Now everything has changed.

In an interview last week with L’Équipe, former world champion Julian Alaphilippe said he was the only person wearing a mask on his flight to the Critérium du Dauphiné but he was still happy to comply with orders.

“I’m still being careful,” the Frenchman said. “It may be too much but we have to remain vigilant, I prefer that to missing the Tour de France.

“Cycling remains the only sport where you have a lot of controls: it spoils the party a bit, but we have to get used to it. In order not to stay at home in July and throw away all the sacrifices we’ve made, we must continue to stay in a bubble.

File/Podium finishers show Covid safety measures during the 107th Tour de France 2020, Stage 21 a 122km stage from Mantes-La-Jolie to Paris Champs-Élysées on September 20, 2020 in Paris, France. (Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

“Maybe the measures are too heavy, but I really want to ride the Tour.”

Organisers of the July 1-23 Tour, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), have not officially confirmed the raft of protocols will be put in place.

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