Critérium du Dauphiné: “We walk on our heads”, the Covid returns to pollute the world of cycling

Critérium du Dauphiné: “We walk on our heads”, the Covid returns to pollute the world of cycling

2023-06-05 02:53:11

“David, can you take off your mask for the photo? » « No, I don’t have the right anymore. These are the new instructions. “In front of his Groupama-FDJ bus, David Gaudu seems sorry but, since Saturday, ASO, the organizer of the Critérium du Dauphiné, which is also that of the Tour de France, has tightened the anti-Covid rules. The mask becomes compulsory again for all those who are authorized to approach the runners. And they are forbidden to sign autographs. As in a step back or a switch to a parallel universe at a time when the relaxation of barrier gestures is, on the contrary, total in France.

“When I came here, I was the only one who wore a mask on the plane, also noticed Julian Alaphilippe. But it’s the price to pay for not being sent home before the Tour de France. »

Even if nothing is official, some teams have already learned from the mouths of ASO leaders that these measures will most likely be renewed for the Tour. The general public will have to content themselves with admiring the riders from further afield than last year.

If ASO acts like this, it is so as not to have to live with what happened to their counterpart organizers of the last Giro d’Italia. When Remco Evenepoel, the world champion, had to leave the race, when he was wearing the pink jersey, because of a positive Covid test. A disaster for the rest of the race and which had distorted the duel with the future winner, Primoz Roglic.

You should know that now neither the organizers nor the international federation require or pass tests before or during the events. They are left to the discretion of the teams. But the doctors of the latter believe that a positive and symptomatic runner must stop because, even today, the long-term unknowns on the cardiorespiratory consequences command him to no longer solicit his body in the race.

“Putting the masks back on is just communication”

“I understand ASO’s posture of wanting to preserve the Tour, believes Pascal Chanteur, the boss of the UNCP, the riders’ union. But putting the masks back on is just communication. How to make believe that the Tour will be in a sealed sanitary bubble outside the real world? We walk on the head. »

Julien Jurdie, the sports director of AF2R-Citroën, accepts the return of the constraints but remarks that it is “only in the bike now that the Covid is messing up. In other sports, we don’t talk about it anymore. »

Philippe Mauduit, his counterpart from Groupama-FDJ, admits that he no longer knows what to do but is annoyed by this squaring of the circle imposing on his riders not to be contaminated in a world that no longer protects itself. “I give up trying to understand the meaning of certain decisions,” he admits. Cyclists, once again, must be exemplary. There is a form of cynicism. Obviously, the health of the runners comes first. But that should be the case for all athletes, right? »

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