PARIS – After weeks of holding out hope that the Tour de France would be able to go ahead as planned, the world’s most famous cycling race was finally added to the list of sporting events postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The three-week race could still take place this year, however, with French newspapers reporting late Tuesday that a new start date has been set for August. Both L'Equipe and Le Parisien said organizers are now hoping to stage the race from Aug. 29-Sept. 20.
That new time slot would see the race end on Champs-Élysées just as the rescheduled French Open tennis tournament starts a few miles away in western Paris.
Tour organizer Amaury Sport Organisation did not immediately reply to a request for confirmation from The Associated Press. But local authorities in Haute-Savoie region tweeted that the last of the mountain stages will pass through its rugged and daunting climbs on Sept. 17 on the race’s 18th stage.
The Tour was set to start on June 27 in the Riviera city of Nice. But that effectively became impossible on Monday night when French President Emmanuel Macron announced in his speech to the nation that all public events with large crowds have been canceled until at least mid-July.
"Given that it’s now impossible that the Tour starts at its planned date, we are consulting with the (International Cycling Union) to try and find new dates,” ASO had said earlier Tuesday.
The last time the Tour was not held was in 1946, with the nation still emerging from World War II. It was also stopped during WWI.