Coronavirus: Kittel sceptical of postponed Tour de France going ahead


Marcel Kittel remains sceptical about the chances of the Tour de France taking place this year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Tour was originally scheduled to start on June 27 but was moved back to August 29 after France president Emmanuel Macron banned mass public gatherings until mid-July.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak there have been over 150,000 confirmed cases in France, leading to nearly 20,000 deaths.

Kittel, a 14-time stage winner on the Tour, is still doubtful about the prospect of the race going ahead due to potential logistical issues with no end to the crisis in sight.

He told Stats Perform: "The decision to postpone the Tour is not one to be criticised generally, because it was reasonable to take the time and find a good decision. Due to COVID-19, we must be aware that the new date of the Tour is anything but safe.

"The decision on whether it is justifiable for all participants and the spectators must be made in that moment. I am quite sceptical about this, because I think it is really hard due to the current circumstances to organise such a big event, even if you take precautions.

"The Tour is a massive event, travelling through a complete country with a lot of people involved.

"I hope the right decision will be reached on this issue. I would appreciate it if the Tour could take place, but only with the right conditions"

Kittel added: "If the decision is made by politicians and experts that the Tour can be held in a secure way, then it is something I can rely on. But, right now, I don't see any chance that the Tour can take place in autumn, because a lot of big events have also been cancelled.

"But nobody knows what the situation will look like in six months. We can only wait and see how it will actually develop."

Kittel said that trying to stage the Tour without any fans in attendance "doesn't make any sense at all".

The Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana are now set to be held after the UCI Road World Championships, which takes place in late September.

Kittel does not think finishing the season with three Grand Tours in close succession is fair on either the riders or event organisers, particularly when they take place in the European countries that have been hit hardest by the virus.

"Three Grand Tours in a row is absolutely unrealistic for me, for the organisers but also for the athletes," he said.

"Unless every race is started with different riders – that's something that could work out, although it is also pretty hard for everyone.

"Aside from this, the three Grand Tours are set to take place in France, Italy and Spain - three countries which have been highly affected by COVID-19. I think this idea is not very realistic."