Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme is relieved to have been able to successfully complete the 2020 Tour de France. He draws up a positive assessment of this first Great Post-Covid-19 Loop.
Bringing the Tour de France to Paris “is a victory,” said its director Christian Prudhomme, who said he was “relieved” on Sunday, at the end of an edition delayed by two months due to a pandemic.
Christian Prudhomme, were you afraid that the Tour would end prematurely?
Every year, journalists ask me if I am relieved at the end of the Tour. This year, I say yes. It’s already a victory to arrive in Paris. We were afraid in the hours before the start in Nice, with two positive cases of Covid leading to the exclusion of a team. I finally tell myself that this is what allowed us to go to the end. The teams tightened the screws even more. The job has been done. The measures taken so that there is a race, so that we can all work, all of this has made its way into everyone’s mind.
Did you shake once the race started?
There is a total rupture. In the days leading up to the start, I didn’t have a single question from a French sports journalist. Saturday was the rain, the ice rink on the road, the summer ice. The next day, it was the victory of Julian Alaphilippe, the yellow jersey, the shining sun, the beauty of the landscapes, the public on the side of the road with 90-95% of people masked. On this Tour, it was September and there were obviously fewer people than in July. But I was struck by the response from the roadsides, the decorated villages, the audience.
How do you judge this edition sportingly?
I’m not going to put it on the same level as last year, which was exciting, with the performances of choice from the French riders as well. We dreamed for a while in Nice, but the falls played a huge role. Thibaut Pinot, even if he has the courage to still be there, has been virtually eliminated. Then there were the retirements of Romain Bardet, Nairo Quintana and finally Egan Bernal, the biggest surprise. I wasn’t expecting its dramatic drop in power.
Are you going to focus on the intermediate stages, which are often more interesting sporting?
The stages of Lavaur, Lyon and Champagnole were formidable. Thanks to Peter Sagan, Sam Bennett, their teams. The fight for the green jersey has been the best in I don’t know how long. But it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions. What is certain is that we must make sure to reduce the level stages in terms of mileage. When they are long, the end must be very rough.
What lessons do you draw from the attacks of certain elected environmentalists against the Tour?
It is simply confirmation of what everyone knows: elected officials have the power to say yes or no. Without elected officials, there is no cycling race, no infrastructure to build either, no stadium, swimming pool or tennis court.
You said: “To break living together is not a mistake, it’s a mistake” …
But that’s not political at all, it’s just common sense. Afterwards, we can always feel that we are not going fast enough in environmental matters. But things are progressing. The Tour shows and is nourished by the beauties of France, we have no desire to spoil the beauties of France. We have been in this process for years.