The Excursion de France launched into its ultimate week on Tuesday, with greater than 500 miles of racing left and most effective 40 seconds setting apart the chief from his closest pursuer.
The sphere has already coated 15 phases, racked up just about 1,650 miles and misplaced 20 cyclists, none of them to the coronavirus, regardless of early issues that the race may cause new waves of infections in a rustic that has noticed a surge of circumstances in fresh weeks. On Tuesday, the Excursion introduced that 785 extra checks — carried out on Sunday and Monday on riders, personnel individuals of the 22 groups and race officers — all had come again damaging.
It has now not precisely been trade as same old, alternatively. Fanatics of the Excursion were scarcer at the facets of the street, and selfies and autographs are forbidden. Riders placed on mask once they go the end line, and perform in a limited atmosphere, despite the fact that that has now not been foolproof: Remaining week, Christian Prudhomme, the race’s director, examined certain for the coronavirus, together with a couple of staff personnel individuals.
However for probably the most phase, the stringent protocols installed position to stay the 2020 version protected seem to be operating. And within the absence of virus drama, a lot of the eye has been directed towards the ones excelling — or suffering — on their motorcycles.
Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic of Staff Jumbo-Visma is main the race, however his just right buddy and countryman Tadej Pogacar of Staff Emirates is most effective 40 seconds at the back of after successful a mountain degree on Sunday. Germany’s Lennard Kamna gained Tuesday’s 16th degree, neatly forward of the leaders, who — safe by way of their teammates — saved shut watch on one every other from the relative protection of the entrance of the principle pack.
With six phases left sooner than the race’s arrival at the Champs-Élysées on Sunday, Roglic and Pogacar will take their battle for the yellow jersey into the French Alps this week, together with on a much-anticipated degree on Wednesday with a harrowing mountain climb to the end close to the ski lodge the town of Méribel that hasn’t ever gave the impression at the Excursion’s direction. “It’s remarkable,” Prudhomme mentioned concerning the Col de l. a. Loze. Many be expecting the destiny of this yr’s Excursion to be sealed there.
Pogacar mentioned this week that his technique could be to take a look at to near the distance on Roglic within the mountains after which attempt to take the yellow jersey in a time trial on Saturday. He completed forward of Roglic on the Slovenian time trial championships previous this yr, beat him in a dash to the road on Sunday after which attempted — and failed — to do it once more on Tuesday.
“The very best state of affairs could be to take it at the night time of the overall time trial however we are living in an actual international,” Pogacar mentioned. “If there’s an opportunity to take it, I can take a look at.”
“There are riders that are stronger than me, and we need to accept it,” Bernal told journalists on Sunday. “I had no power,” he added. “I haven’t had the legs.”
Still, Bernal, the first Colombian (and the first South American) to win the Tour, said he would give his best out of respect for the race. On Sunday, he posted a picture of himself wincing in pain on his Twitter account. “Lengthy reside to the Excursion,” he wrote in French.
The Excursion de France used to be to begin with scheduled for July, however behind schedule as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Organizers have attempted to handle this yr’s version by way of protecting the racers in a so-called bubble, with each rider required to put on face mask sooner than and after every degree, and personnel individuals ordered to do the similar at the same time as they journey in combination within the automobiles that accompany the peloton.
Staff docs have needed to entire day-to-day well being checklists for each rider and personnel member so they may be able to be remoted if any signs of imaginable an infection seem. Prudhomme, the race director, used to be allowed to go back on Tuesday most effective after self-isolating and checking out damaging.
But even so Bernal’s cave in on Sunday, every other wonder this yr has been the deficient efficiency of French riders, a number of of whom had been favorites for the yellow jersey or the rostrum. Via 16 phases, there isn’t a unmarried Frenchman within the general most sensible 10.
One French favourite, Romain Barnet, dropped out after sustaining a concussion in a crash. Another, Thibault Pinot, crashed on the first day and never seemed to regain his stride. He lost all hope of winning when he was left behind in Stage 8, losing more than 25 minutes in a single day, and said his only goal now was to finish the race.
“The Tour is not over,” he said after dropping out of contention last week. “I never thought about quitting.”