As if there is no coronavirus at all. This is what it looked like on Saturday afternoon during the final climb in the eighth stage of the Tour. Despite repeated calls from the Tour organisation, teams and riders to keep their distance, many fans didn’t follow the corona measures at all.
On the flanks of the Col de Peyresourde the fans were crowded along the road. Most of them were wearing mouth masks, but not everyone had taken that trouble. What’s more, the riders were loudly encouraged from up close, sometimes even so close that the riders almost had to push them aside.
Saturday morning the Tour organisation had just called on supporters to keep their distance and wear face masks. Riders and their teams also made that call earlier.
Fans who can shout at the riders up close without a mouth mask, that’s the weak spot of the ‘cycling bubble’ in which the biggest cycling race in the world moves through France.
Before and after the race the riders are shielded as well as possible, but once on the road they are vulnerable. Especially in the mountains, where the pace is low enough for fans to run a few meters.
The guests at the table at De Avondetappe are also surprised at how the fans behave, while team leader Frans Maassen of Jumbo-Visma says the whole peloton is looking at it with care
The scenes on the Peyresourde weren’t entirely unexpected either. Tom Dumoulin – who sacrificed his own classification for leading rider Primoz Roglic in this stage – was already worried about the spectators a couple of weeks ago.
“It is to be hoped that there will be a good campaign for the people on the side, because on the climb half of the peloton is shouting in our faces without a mouth shield”, said Dumolin after the Critérium du Dauphiné. “And that’s not the intention, huh?”
So that campaign did come, but seems to be partly directed to deaf ears. A worrisome situation for teams, who can be kicked out of the Tour in case of infections. Not long after the finish Movistar made another call to keep their distance.
“We’ve tried so hard to ride again, we don’t want it to end. Stick to the measures, do it for us and the rest of the platoon.”