Friday, July 15, 2016

Prudhomme: ‘The Tour Must Go On’

Christian Prudhomme met with the media in Qatar on Friday. Photo: Gregor Brown |

BOURG-SAINT-ANDEOL, France (AFP) — Friday’s 13th stage of the Tour de France will go ahead despite the terror attack which killed at least 84 people in Nice on Thursday night, Tour director Christian Prudhomme said.

But a minute’s silence was to be held both at the start and finish lines while the publicity caravan that precedes the Tour along each stage route will be silent in memory of the terror attack victims.

“We want this day to be dignified in hommage to the victims,” said Prudhomme ahead of the start of the stage, a 37 kilometer time trial from Bourg-Saint-Andeol to La Caverne du Pont d’Arc in the south of France.

Ireland’s Sam Bennett was the first rider to start his race against the clock at 10:05 a.m. local time. Race leader Chris Froome was due to start last at 4:49 p.m.

The yellow jersey wearer, who suffered his own personal drama in a sensational stage 12 finish on Mont Ventoux on Thursday, paid tribute to the victims on Twitter.

“Thoughts are with those affected by the horrific terror attack in Nice,” he wrote, alongside a picture of the French flag.

Tour organisers met with local government officials, gendarme police and GIGN anti-terror special forces earlier on Friday before deciding to proceed with the stage.

“The day’s stage in the Ardeche is maintained. We asked ourselves the question but we think, in agreement with State authorities, that the race must go on,” said Prudhomme.

“And that we must not give in to the pressure of those who want us to change our way of life. The Tour will continue with restraint and dignity. Our thoughts are with the victims, we commiserate with all those affected, who’ve lost their loved ones, who are injured in their bodies or in their souls.

“It’s a day of mourning for France and a day of mourning for the Tour de France.”

A minute’s silence was held in the departure village before Bennett set off on his time trial.

Another minute’s silence will be held at the finish when the various distinctive jersey wearers head up to the victory podium to receive their prizes.

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