Tour de France ‘Grand Depart’ host city Nice scrambled to impose tighter health protocols on Thursday as the region was reclassified as a COVID-19 ‘red zone’ while four members of one team were sent home after positive pre-race tests.With contenders mulling the likely sprint finish on the Mediterranean city’s celebrated seafront Promenade des Anglais, it was announced only a few dozen fans could get to see the race start on Saturday.Authorities in the chic seaside town decided Thursday’s team parade and fan park could only host 1,000 spectators, leaving the vast downtown Place Massena almost deserted for the show with thousands of fans packed outside large blacked out barriers. There was an “undeniable resurgence” of the COVID-19 epidemic throughout France, Castex told a press conference, with 39 positive tests per 100,000 population — four times the level of a month ago, and rising in all age groups.”We knew it was coming,” regional prefect Bernard Gonzalez said. “We are shifting from tight conditions, to very tight conditions,” he said, flanked by Nice mayor Christian Estrosi and Tour de France organizer Christian Prudhomme.Saturday’s Promenade des Anglais start line will allow just 100 spectators, reserved for municipality staff “who worked so hard to get this to happen” Gonzalez said.There will also be no camper vans or pop-up villages on the summits in the mountains behind Nice on stage two.”People should stay home and watch on television,” Gonzalez said, without going as far as banning people from gathering in their thousands by the roadside.Anyone involved in the Tour — riders and the rest of the caravan — have undergone nasal tests for coronavirus symptoms.”It’s unpleasant [the nasal swab] but necessary. We are all here ready to race after all,” Astana’s Colombian captain Miguel Angel Lopez told AFP.The Nice mayor went even further.”Inside the Tour is where you are most protected from the spread of the virus,” said Estrosi. Outsprinting COVID-19 The Tour de France, however, appears to be succeeding where the Tokyo Olympics and football’s Euros failed, in getting their event staged in 2020, albeit late and in reduced circumstances.The mountainous 21-day race starts Saturday with a run around the outskirts of Nice but avoids the low Alps behind it until stage two, meaning the first stage should end in a mass bunch sprint.The winner of stage one will wear the overall leader’s yellow jersey, but in the long term will be targeting the green jersey awarded to the best sprinter.Lotto-Soudal’s Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan, who stands at 1.65m, is a red hot favorite to win the opener.”I feel more pressure than last year at the start of my first Tour de France,” says Ewan who won three stages including the clincher on the Champs-Elysees in 2019.”I’ve stepped up again another level and I’m ready to take up the challenge on Saturday,” said the affable 26-year-old.”Stage one is not too hard for me.”The conditions may be rainy and lower temperatures suit me better,” said the man from New South Wales, who lives down the coast from Nice in Monaco.Temperatures Saturday are expected to be around 26C with frequent showers. Topics : Fines of 135 euros were dished out to anyone without a protective face mask in Nice’s terrace-lined squares and along the beachfront walkways.The Alpes-Maritimes region where Nice is situated was reclassified as a COVID-19 red zone, along with 18 other French departments in a decision from French Prime Minister Jean Castex.On Thursday evening, Belgian team Lotto said it had sent four of their entourage home after two of them tested ‘non-negative’ for their PCR nasal swab COVID-19 tests.Any team that has two riders test positive will be expelled from the Tour.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not a fan of the MLS playoffs as the LA Galaxy captain labeled the system “s—.”Unlike Europe, where Ibrahimovic has played for the likes of Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Inter, AC Milan and Juventus, MLS uses a playoff system to crown a champion. Wayne Rooney to leave D.C. United for Derby at end of MLS season That @Ibra_official & @96Kichan combination pic.twitter.com/i0yHWhrNh2— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) August 8, 2019″I think the system is s—,” Ibrahimovic told reporters in Los Angeles. “How can you learn mentality if you only have to reach the playoffs?””You just need to win the playoffs, and that’s it. The results in each game are important, but here, if you come in seventh place, you make the playoffs and win, you are champion,” the 37-year-old added. MLS on Alejandro Bedoya’s anti-gun violence moment: ‘We understand’ “For me, the mentality is every day, training the way you train is the way you play a game, and with the MLS system, how do you create that mentality to be in your toes 24 hours?”The Galaxy, who missed the playoffs last season, are fifth in the Western Conference and 15 points adrift of leaders Los Angeles FC.Ibrahimovic — an All-Star this term — has scored 16 goals in 18 appearances for the Galaxy. DC United captain Wayne Rooney’s MLS career by the numbers so far The top seven teams from the Western and Eastern Conferences — which consist of 12 teams in each division — progress to the MLS Cup playoffs.Ibrahimovic, however, does not like the postseason system after voicing his disapproval following Thursday’s training session. Related News