World wars, doping scandals: the Tour de France has survived difficult times before

PARIS: The coronavirus the pandemic has launched this summer Tour de France in a state of frantic reorganization but the cycling Epic has had to deal with testing situations during its 116-year history.

French President Emmanuel Macron's announcement on Monday banning mass gatherings until mid-July has left organizers struggling to find a new start date for the 2020 edition originally slated to start in Nice on June 27.

Take a look at some previous obstacles that the Tour has had to negotiate in its history of more than a century:

In the Saint-Etienne region during the second edition of the race in 1904, supporters of local favorite Alfred Faure physically attacked their rivals. They fired to restore order in unbridled circumstances. There was so much ruse in the first four finalists, they were all disqualified. Henri Desgrange, the founder of the Tour, said at the time: The Tour has been killed for the passions it has aroused.

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The day the 1914 Tour de France began, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo. The Tour would make it to Paris on July 26 just two days before the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, setting the stage for the outbreak of the first World War.

For the Belgian registry Philippe Thys He won the Tour that year, the last time it was held until 1919.

The 1939 Tour embarked without the German, Italian or Spanish riders and completely avoided the northern and western regions. It ended less than five weeks before the declaration of war made by France and England over Nazi Germany. The Tour did not run again until 1947.

In 1982, some 300 steelworkers on strike over job losses in the northern French city of Denain blocked the way for the team's time trial, leading to the stage being canceled. Strikers have attacked the Tour many times, but have never lost a stage before or since. However, in 1978, the first two-stage stage was canceled when the riders themselves stood up and refused to continue due to lack of rest time, stopping just before the finish line.

While France was celebrating winning the World Cup in 1998 cycling was struck in the heart by the so-called Festina doping affair when customs officials stopped a vehicle laden with doping products. There was a media storm as police raids and arrests led to the Festina team being thrown off the race as the peloton staggered into Paris on a Tour that ended under a cloud and at one time looked unlikely to finish.

The world's love affair with the Tour was sorely tested in the ensuing years when cycling fell under the spell of US Postal's Texan rider Lance Armstrong, who won from 1999-2005. Armstrong was eventually stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after admitting to doping. The American is seen widely as a pariah not only because of the doping but also because of how he used his power and influence at the top of the sport to intimidate others whilst trying to keep a lid on the matter.