Crowds along the Champs-Élysées will be limited to just 5,000 during Sunday’s final stage of the Tour de France due to Paris being at the centre of a red zone of COVID-19 cases.
The final stage of the Tour de France traditionally has a party atmosphere with crowds along the famous central avenue often five deep along the barriers as fans watch the riders race circuits of the final stage.
However, with over 10,000 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in France on Thursday and a number of clusters in the capital, crowds numbers will be strictly controlled, just as they were in Nice for the Grand Départ and other red zones in France.
“Access to the Champs-Élysées will be stopped once the total of 5,000 people is reached,” authorities said according to the Reuters news agency.
“The rules will be those of the red zones”, AFP quoted an ASO official as saying.
Other measures mean the teams bus paddock area, located near Place de la Concorde will not be accessible and the public will not be allowed on the part of the final circuit along the Rue de Rivoli near the Louvre museum and the Jardin des Tuileries, in the final kilometre of the Paris circuit.
The Tour de France has finished on the Champs-Élysées since 1975.
The 21st and final stage of the 2020 Tour de France starts in Mantes-la-Jolie and ends in Paris after 122km of racing. The riders are scheduled to cover eight laps of the Champs-Élysées circuit, with the expected sprint finish scheduled for 7pm local time.
The 2020 Tour began on August 29 in Nice, which was also classified as a red zone due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in the area. Fans were not allowed to spectate in high numbers at the team presentation or at the start and finish of stages. Spectators were obliged to wear face masks along the roadside but crowds often packed the major climbs of the race.
Riders and team staff in the protected ‘race bubble’ were tested for COVID-19 before and during the race. Four Lotto Soudal staff members were sent home before the start in Nice, while four other staff members from the Cofidis, AG2R La Mondiale, Ineos Grenadiers teams tested positive and were removed from the race on the first rest day.
Race director Christian Prudhomme also tested positive but was allowed to return to the race in the final week after a negative test. No riders or staff tested positive on the second rest day last Monday, allowing all the teams to continue towards Paris.
Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) has gradually strengthened his overall race lead and is expected to secure victory in Saturday’s time trial stage to La Planches des Belles Filles before a celebratory ride into Paris on Sunday.