The Tour de France has been postponed by two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, world governing body the UCI has confirmed.
The 107th edition of the race was due to begin in Nice on June 27 and conclude in Paris on July 19, but the UCI on Wednesday issued new dates, with the opening stage on August 29 and the finale on September 20.
Postponement of the race became inevitable on Monday when French President Emmanuel Macron announced there would be no mass gatherings in the country until mid-July.
The revised Tour will take place over the same route as was planned for the original dates without any changes, following extensive discussions with the relevant local authorities over the past few weeks.
Organiser ASO said in a statement: “We would like to thank all of the cycling stakeholders, Tour partners, its broadcasters in 190 countries, as well as all the authorities concerned by the Tour de France for their responsiveness and support.
“With them, we hope that the 2020 edition will help to turn the page on the difficult days that we are currently experiencing around the world.”
The fate of the Tour was seen as critical for the economics of cycling considering teams’ reliance on sponsorship, which is in turn dependent on the exposure brought by the world’s biggest race.
The UCI statement read: “Holding this event in the best conditions possible is judged essential given its central place in cycling’s economy and its exposure, in particular for the teams that benefit on this occasion from unparalleled visibility.”
The new dates for the Tour came as part of a wider plan for the road cycling season announced by the UCI.
The suspension of all racing was extended until July 1, and until August 1 for the WorldTour events – which have been on hiatus since Paris-Nice ended one day early on March 14.