In 2020 Tour de France, you can’t get there from here –

“”, “Filter”: {“next exclusives”: “img, blockquote, div”, “nextsotsexception”: “img, blockquote”}} “”>

Member exclusive

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks.

SISTERON, France (VN) – Navigating the Tour de France is never easy. But after all these years, you would think we would have understood it.

Monday’s third leg was a preview of what the 2020 Tour de France will throw at us in this COVID-19 edition. Road blocks, both literally and figuratively, were disrupting our frantic daily start-to-finish quests that usually chew a large portion of any hack day on the tour.

It started off very badly, lost driving out of the alley nest in the Vicks-Port of Nice. This was followed by a resounding arrival at the Nice Football Stadium, where understandings of the ASO had journalists lost to a circle of stairwells, fencing, barriers, security checks, hand-cleaning stations, and finger-guard security guards. Morning forbidden? You can not go from here.

Almost as soon as we finally “get there,” we heard the pre-stage bell – like the bell in a Criterium race – as if instead of running for the primes, you need to move your butt. Then came a panic-stricken moment of trying to find a car in an underground parking garage, like a football stadium (remember, kids, always take care of the parking lot, if they counted).

If you get stuck behind the Tour de France race caravan, the line of cars runs for miles. Photo: Tim de Vale / Getty Images

Once out on the race course – whew! – Things returned to normal. Fans lined the road, villages above Nice glowing in the late sun. We stopped at Turretas-sur-Lupe, chatted with some fans, hit a bolangengari, snapped a few shots, and watched the peloton roll past. It almost looked like the Tour de France, except everyone were wearing face masks.

We tucked behind the broom wagon as the sky opened up. With safety and health measures in place, the police were telling us that there was no way we could jump. And with limited-access press credentials outside, there was no way we could pass the peloton.

We were stuck behind the peloton, the worst place in a bike race.

In simpler times – before the world pandemic and terrorist attacks – photographers and scribes could leap frog ahead of every stage, using the back roads and a deep sense of direction to capture the peloton two to three times, and right now Also to come to an end. Time for a clean sprint.

not anymore. We quickly drew our photos, in the initial 25 km, but this wire was still down to get to Sistron.

After some creative kajoling and pleading with a local police officer that got us through the barriers, we plunged back down to the Riviera, just in time for two big “bauchons” to form – a special kind of French traffic jam – Main Toll Road.

Luckily for us, the peloton was on a slow-down mode, and we arrived at Sistron some 30 minutes before the pack. Everything is fine

A journey like no other

Thierry Gouvenau
Thierry Gowen said that the 2020 Tour de France is unlike any other in history. Photo: James Start

The above line was the return of the 2020 Tour so far. Exceptional situations require extraordinary measures.

Everyone will be seen playing at the first mountain finale on Tuesday. According to Tour Race director Thierry Govenu, climbing and climbing 27 summits will not be allowed in this year’s edition.

This would mean that the climbers in this year’s tour were exposed to some of the most colorful and dynamic aspects that made the tour so unique in the world of sports.

Cycling fans’ ability to get very close to their sports heroes – in some cases too close – is an essential part of the tour’s story. With coronaviruses threatening the tour, race organizers felt they had no other choice.

The last thing anyone wants is that the tour becomes a spreader event of COVID-19, and the rationale is that if there are generally fewer people at the packed peak, the risk is lower.

Insiders told us that it is a harsh decision for the ASO to cut fans’ access to the tour’s most famous climbers. Fans are the life of a sport that does not take admission and there is no seating arrangement in the stadium.

It is important to point out that climbers are not completely sealed – fans can still go on foot or by bike.

Just to cheer on the stars of the peloton would require some more sweaty energy this year.

Time to plug in that e-bike.

Tuesday’s phase to thin the herd

Hood is picking up Pogker (left) to win Tuesday’s summit. Photo: UAE-Team Emirates

I’m quite looking forward to Tuesday’s 160 km fourth leg of Orcières-Merlette in the Alps, southern France. Why? Because I don’t know what will happen.

The final ascent is not difficult by WorldTour’s standards – 7.1 km at 6.7 percent – but the fact that it comes so early in this journey where everyone’s form is all over the map, well, how can we predict what Will it happen?

One thing that will happen is that some GC hopes will be torpedoed. We have already seen a couple of big names. Must see some more on Tuesday.

This is the classic “you-don’t-win-the-tour-the-you-can-you-can-lose-it” kind of climb.

I expect a few things: First, Jumbo-Wisma will again try to oust the Inios Grenadiers. The Dutch team is coming strong out of the gate, so let’s see if they stay under pressure. The tour is so long and arduous, however, that I wonder if it may be later in the race. Egan Bernal has played it well so far, so I hope Inos’s DS keeps whispering in his ear so that the bait doesn’t pick up.

I also sincerely hope that Tadej Pogkar has to board a flight. He is only 17 seconds out of the yellow jersey, and he is only 21 years old – of course he will attack! I just hope the UAE-Emirates didn’t try to hold him back. The youthful exasperation only lasts so long. If he has legs, let him walk.

My pick: Pogačar for the win, and Julian Alfilippe defended yellow by a mustache.