France is an epicentre of global cycling, and the country’s latest Covid rules will impact professional cycling.
The new law requires all people who use public buildings to be vaccinated. Applied to cycling events, that would require all athletes, support staff and most spectators, to be vaccinated at the Tour de France.
A negative Covid test will no longer be sufficient for freedom of movement and access to venues in France. Those riders, team members and fans who want to experience the return to normalized cycling events, will have to be compliant with the vaccine pass rules.
Novak Djokovic’s issues in Australia could have influenced this new approach by French authorities, which allows for no vaccine exemptions.
The best riders won't have an issue
Nearly all French professional athletes have been vaccinated and most of the elite cycling teams, scheduled to ride in this year’s Tour de France, have close to 100% vaccine compliance. The defending Tour de France champion, Tadej Pogacar, was vaccinated precisely a year ago.
For some teams, the broader theme of support staff could become challenging. Vaccine status might be a privacy infringement in certain jurisdictions. It is also unknown how current employment contracts are structured, relating to vaccine compliance being a condition of employment.
Global cycling was expecting a regular schedule this year, but omicron intervened, cancelling the Tour Down Under and Argentina’s Veulta a San Juan.
Most elite teams and riders will now see France as the start of their competition season, with a selection of short events in southern France, during February. The Tour de France is scheduled to start in its traditional slot, during the final week of June.
The UCI is yet to announce its new protocols for events this season, covering all competition disciplines, from road to mountain biking.