Mitchelton-Scott sport director Matt White has talked about the current situation of the riders and the future of the cycling, admitting that he supports holding the Tour de France.
“At the moment, a lot of the team is in our third week of lockdown,” said White. “We have guys spread all across Europe, and a couple of guys in Australasia and America.
“Approximately 85-90% of our team are in total lockdown, which means they can’t leave their house except to access essential services, so in essence, to go food shopping. That’s obviously having an effect on what training they are able to do – it means they are training on a home trainer, and maybe doing some gym stuff in their garage.”
While some riders can go outside, others have to stay confined in their houses and that makes a difference in training.
“The clear difference between those stuck inside and those allowed outside is volume,” the head sports director explained. ” We’ve seen some special guys jump on and do some pretty ridiculous home trainer sessions, but in general, that’s not for everyone.
“The guys who can get out on the road now can get out and do 4-5hr rides, which is the norm. Whereas the guys at home are on the home trainer for an hour to 90min at the most. They are probably going at a bit higher intensity but they’re just not able to do the volume of training they would normally.
“We hope that towards the middle to end of April everyone can be back on the road to some degree, so when you look at our starting point, which in the best case scenario is June, I think everyone will have a month to 6 weeks on the road before we start competing. I think by the time we start back into competition it’ll be a pretty level playing field.”
“The Tour de France without crowds would be weird,” he commented. “But, a lot of our early season races and smaller races don’t have big crowds. It would feel strange for the riders, to be competing at our showcase event with minimal people, but it would work.
“Even if there was only the 2000 people travelling, it would be a positive for the French economy, and obviously the TV audience would be huge because people are looking for things to watch and once sport does recommence, I am sure it would rate highly. It’s viable, and we could do it, but the bigger question is how do we move that circus around France in a safe way. At the end of the day it has to be safe for the French public, safe for everyone in that travelling group and achievable for the French resources.”
“For the guys that were preparing for the Tour de France, nothing has changed,” White affirmed. “The only thing that has changed is that because the Giro isn’t where it was and there’s no Olympics, a few of the Giro riders have been added to the Tour de France long list and are competing for spots.
“If the Tour de France does go ahead in full, it’ll be the best field ever. The Giro has never not been on before the Tour de France, and because we’ve been starved of a couple of months of racing in Spring, people aren’t going to be ‘sitting out’ to wait for the Vuelta. In a normal season this happens because they’ve already ridden the Giro, or a young rider can wait for the Vuelta because they’ve had a lot of racing in Spring.
“I think in the best case scenario, there will be a lot of guys hitting the Tour de France with 20 race days under their belt, some will be even less, and that’s if Suisse and Dauphine run beforehand. It’s going to be strange, but it would be a very competitive race.”