The Tour de France has been postponed a day after French President Emmanuel Macron announced that a strict nationwide lockdown will continue until May 11 and a ban on public gatherings will extend to mid-July.
The three-week cycling race had been slated to begin June 27 in Nice and end in Paris on July 19.
"Given that it's now impossible that the Tour starts at its planned date, we are consulting with the (International Cycling Union) to try and find new dates," race organizers told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Rescheduling the 2,100-mile race will be a challenge. The Giro d'Italia has already been postponed, and La Vuelta de España is currently still scheduled for Aug. 14-Sept. 6. Organizers of the three races have an agreement to work out a schedule so that all three competitions can still take place and last three weeks as planned, according to Cycling News.
Organizers have dismissed the idea of holding the tour but banning spectators from lining the course. "The Tour de France is 3000km of smiles," Amaury Sport Organisation chief Christian Prudhomme has said, according to The Local France. "We won't run a Tour de France without the fans."
Because of the confinement measures in place, Prudhomme has said cyclists would need at least two months to get back into racing shape. Borders will need to be reopened so that cyclists from other countries can compete. In some years the Tour's route makes forays into neighboring countries, but the 2020 route is entirely within France.
The Tour de France is the best-known event in men's cycling and generates some 70% of teams' sponsor visibility and value, according to Cycling News, which noted that many teams have already cut or deferred riders' salaries because of the virus. Cycling's governing body has furloughed staff and cut leaders' salaries.
The last time that there was no tour was in 1946, as Europe was recovering from World War II.