UCI's Lappartient says cancelling Giro and Tour de France would be a 'disaster'
David Lappartient, the president of the UCI, cycling’s international governing body, has claimed it would be a “disaster” for the sport if it is forced to cancel the 2020 editions of the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, two of the three Grand Tours, because of concerns over the spread of coronavirus.
Italy has been the European country most affected by the virus, with over 9,000 cases and more than 450 deaths, and the government has imposed a national lockdown, with an extension of quarantine measures, including a ban on public gatherings, in which all sports events have been suspended until 3 April.
The situation has raised serious doubts about the Giro, the first of the Grand Tours, which is due to take place from 9 to 31 May.
RCS Sport, the organiser of the race, has already cancelled the Strade Bianche, Tirreno Adriatico and Milan-San Remo cycling events this spring.
France has also been impacted by the coronavirus, with 21 deaths, and this week introduced measures such as ordering that all top-tier Ligue 1 matches be played behind closed doors, or with a maximum of 1,000 spectators. There are now fears for the Tour de France, organised by ASO and scheduled for 27 June to 19 July.
Lappartient (pictured) told Reuters: “It would be a disaster for our sport of course if we can't have the Giro d'Italia or the Tour de France. Maybe the gap of two months in between [the two events] will have also some consequences on the virus. Maybe in summer we hope so, that it will after the summit of the peak, decrease.
“So we hope that these races will be able to take place. But we are, due to the situation in Italy, a little more worried today with the situation with the Giro d'Italia. We know what the decision from the Italian government is until April 3, but who knows what will be the situation after. So there is a potential risk that the Giro can be cancelled.”
The Giro is due to start in the Hungarian capital Budapest and finish in Milan, the capital of Lombardy, the worst-hit region in Italy, three weeks later.
Last week, Mauro Vegni of RCS Sport said that cancelling the race “would create a very complicated situation not only for cycling and sport, but for the entire country. I don’t even want to think about such a prospect. The damage would be truly immense in that case.”
Of more immediate concern for the cycling fraternity is the ASO-organised Paris-Nice, which started on 8 March, and is due to finish, just 40 kilometres from the Italian border, next Sunday.
Lappartient said: “I hope Paris-Nice can go to the end. This is indeed the goal. But maybe the prefect (French state representative) will have to decide whether or not they close for the finishing area without fans and so on. This is not what we want, but if it's the only solution to organise the race, we'll have to go ahead with this. So we are in touch day by day [with ASO].”
The Vuelta a España, the third of the Grand Tours, is scheduled for 14 August to 6 September.