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Team Ineos will pull out of Tour de France if not safe, says Brailsford

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London (AFP)

Team Ineos boss Dave Brailsford says he will pull his riders out of the rescheduled Tour de France if he feels precautions against the coronavirus are not sufficient.

Organisers on Wednesday announced that the tour would be raced from August 29 to September 20, postponing cycling's flagship event, originally slated to start on June 27.

The new dates follow President Emmanuel Macron's extension of a ban on large public gatherings until mid-July.

Brailsford told the Guardian he would pull out of the event if he felt that precautions against COVID-19 were not panning out in a "measured, intelligent and responsible way".

"We would reserve the right to withdraw the team should we deem it necessary, he said.

"Whilst the race is on, we will plan to participate, but equally we will monitor the evolving nature of how things play out, as we did prior to Paris-Nice. This is a sensible, responsible and reasoned approach."

This week's announcement came as a relief to professional cycling teams and fans, with four-time Tour winner Chris Froome welcoming a "light at the end of the tunnel".

But Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh and an adviser to the Scottish government on the COVID-19 pandemic, described the plan to hold the race, even in late August, as a "recipe for disaster."

"It's a painful decision but they have no choice," Sridhar told Cyclingnews. "The wise thing to do is cancel for this year.

"(The Tour promoters) have to weigh the risks against the benefits. Thousands of people from all over the world, gathered together, moving around, from town to town, this is where a virus could thrive -- it could be a recipe for disaster," Sridhar added.

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