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Chris Froome backs Tour de France start but he doubts fans will stay away

Peak practice: Froome rides through a wall of fans on a mountainous stage ten of the 2015 Tour PICTURE: GETTY

CHRIS FROOME believes the Tour de France can start without spectators this year but questioned how organisers can prevent large crowds converging along the course.

Due to start on June 27, the coronavirus pandemic has seen the Tour pushed back until at least August 29 and doubts remain given the differing Covid-19 situation across the world.

The French government says no mass gatherings can take place before September but have clarified the Tour could still go ahead if the opening stages are managed correctly.

That is one of the issues four-time champion Froome believes will be particularly hard to manage as he prepares for a tilt at another victory.

‘For sure we can put the race on without people standing on the roads and fans in that sense,’ the Team Ineos rider said. ‘I mean, we can put on the race and it can be broadcast on television.

‘You’re not going to get the same scenes as you would get going through these tunnels of just people everywhere and all the rest of it. Maybe that’s the version of race we need to see this year. I don’t know.

‘In theory, we can put the race on but the bigger question is would the organisers be able to keep people from actually coming out and gathering in large crowds? I think that is the big- ger question.’

The 34-year-old missed last year’s race after suffering career-threatening injuries in a crash just weeks earlier.

Froome has been hitting the gym first thing every day to try to replicate what he would be doing this time of year in preparation for the Tour.

‘It gets pretty boring at times. I’ve been through every playlist I own about ten times each,’ he said.

‘Obviously I’m coming off the back of a big injury now as well.

‘A lot of the training I’ve been doing up until this point has been indoors already, so it’s almost prepared me in a way for this whole lockdown period and I think mentally I’m obviously able to get through it a bit easier.’