Dubai: The Tour de France and the cycling event at the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games may not attract the strongest teams from across the world.
Considered the jewel in the crown of the sport, the Tour de France is scheduled to run until July 25 next year, two days into the rearranged Tokyo Olympics which is scheduled for its opening ceremony on July 23.
The scheduling of events has a direct clash as the men’s Olympic road race has been scheduled for July 24, the day after the opening ceremony of Tokyo 2020.
Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which organises the Tour de France, had asked Copenhagen – which is hosting the first three stages – about the possibility of moving them and the race forward to avoid the clash.
However, with the Danish capital also scheduled to host a last-16 match of football’s Euro 2020 on June 28 and the Mayor [Frank Jensen] has been reported to have told ASO that any postponed of either the cycling or the football would not be possible.
Thomas Voeckler, manager of the French cycling team, is one of those pained due to the clash of cycling’s mega events next year.
Terming it as an “almost mission impossible” to field the country’s strongest team at Tokyo 2020 due to a clash with the Tour de France, Voeckler expressed hope that things could still change.
“Honestly, it’s a more than a complicated situation. We have known for a long time that the route of the Olympic Games is intended for a climber. The best climbers will be on the Tour de France. To ask them to make a cross on the Tour for a hypothetical result is almost mission impossible,” Voeckler was quoted by French television, RMC Sport.
“I still have hope that things do not remain as they are and that a solution will be found,” he hoped.
Voeckler finished fourth in the 2011 edition of the Tour de France and won four individual stages during his career, as well being named King of the Mountains in 2012. He also represented France at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, finishing 19th.
Meanwhile, Tokyo 2020 confirmed the event schedule for the postponed Games last week, with the men’s road race not moved despite clashing with the iconic French race. The men’s time trial is scheduled to be held on July 28 – three days after the conclusion of the Tour de France.
“Even if there is a culture of Olympism in road cycling, sponsors have far more media coverage on the Tour than on the Olympic race,” Voeckler explained.
“The vast majority of sponsors will ask their best riders and their best climbers to be present on the Tour rather than on the Olympics if there is a choice to be made. I am convinced of that and it would be logical. What is also logical is to also have the best riders of the world on the Olympic race. We will have to find a solution,” he added.