For health workers, the pandemic Tour de France is a big ask

NICE, France — Most likely too busy racing to note, the 176 riders beginning the Excursion de France this weekend will velocity with regards to a sprawling clinic the place caregiver Maude Leneveu remains to be reeling from livid months treating sufferers troubled and death from COVID-19.

After her 12-hour days of cleansing their bedpans, converting the sheets, feeding them and seeking to calm their fears, she’d then pass domestic to breastfeed her child daughter.

“We’re all exhausted,” the 30-year-old Leneveu says.

With coronavirus infections selecting up once more throughout France and her clinic within the Mediterranean town of Great getting ready for a feared 2nd wave of sufferers via readying respirators and different tools, Leneveu suspects she may quickly be known as again to the coronavirus entrance traces. That may destroy her hopes of taking a brief vacation after the Excursion leaves Great on Monday and heads deeper into France, after two days of racing across the town.

However whilst no fan of the race herself, and regardless of the well being dangers of pushing forward with biking’s biggest roadshow in the course of the pandemic, Leneveu is adamant that the three-week Excursion should pass on, as a result of “lifestyles should proceed.”

“Those are already tricky occasions and it’ll be very, very arduous to bear over the long run if, on most sensible of all this, we don’t permit other folks to flee by way of the tv, with occasions like this,” she stated. “Lots of my members of the family like it and they’d had been very unhappy if there’d been no Excursion de France, as it’s emblematic.”

That the Excursion, not on time from July, survived the well being disaster that burnt up ratings of different wearing occasions testifies to the emotional, political and financial clout ceaselessly collected via the race throughout its 117-year historical past, each in France and past.

For race organizers and the French executive, the praise of effectively guidance the Excursion to the end in Paris on Sept. 20 might be a placing message — that the rustic is getting again on its toes after the primary fatal wave of infections and finding out to reside with its epidemic that has claimed greater than 30,500 lives in France.

The danger is that such a lot of riders may fall in poor health throughout the three,484-kilometer (2,165-mile) odyssey that organizers are pressured to chop it quick. Now not achieving Paris would result in questions, already being voiced via scientific body of workers and others, about whether or not the race will have to by no means have prompt from Great in any respect.

At the eve of the beginning, the town’s major public clinic community had simply 10 hospitalized COVID sufferers, all grouped in a single clinic. However infections around the nation are ceaselessly emerging, with 7,379 new circumstances declared Friday, every other new day-to-day prime because the nation eased out of lockdown in Would possibly.

Marine, a final-year scientific scholar on the town’s Pasteur Sanatorium, which the Excursion will race previous at the first two levels Saturday and Sunday, stated after completing her morning shift within the emergency ward Friday that the riders will have to have stayed domestic. As a result of she did not have permission from clinic government to talk to the media, she requested that she be recognized simplest via her first identify.

“It does not appear particularly reasonable. Plus, we are underneath drive on the clinic these days. There are only a few beds, so we aren’t provided to deal with a large inflow of in poor health sufferers,” she stated. “If there are extra infections on account of the Excursion, it will be difficult for us to control … It could had been higher to cancel it.”

However for riders, in a 12 months that had appeared ruined with races thrown into disarray and coaching carried out at domestic on desk bound motorcycles, the Excursion is a blessing, a precious alternative to protected paychecks and perhaps new contracts via shining on French roads.

“All of us remember that it’s no longer a given the race will end,” stated Richie Porte, an Australian driving his 10th Excursion, for the Trek-Segafredo crew. “However complete credit score to the organizers for buying this race off the bottom as a result of biking wishes this race to no less than get started.”

It hasn’t escaped well being staff that the bonus of one,500 euros ($1,785) paid to a couple of them via the federal government for his or her heroism on the peak of France’s epidemic, when other folks in lockdown around the nation cheered them on from their home windows each night time, is small potatoes in comparison to prizes that Excursion riders can pick out up at the roads.

The Excursion winner will get 500,000 euros ($595,000). Winners of the 21 levels earn 11,000 euros. There’s an extra array of smaller prizes, amongst them: 1,500 euros for successful any of the various sprints inside levels and 800 euros for driving first to the highest of the hardest climbs.

Leneveu stated her take-home pay for 4 12-hour clinic shifts a week is 1,450 euros ($1,725) a month. She was once amongst those who were given the COVID bonus after two months treating the in poor health. She stated she needed to put on plastic trash luggage over her robes and two, now and again 3, layers of family gloves within the first weeks when correct coverage was once missing. She emerged from the revel in so exhausted and exasperated that she requested to shift to part-time paintings from September.

“It was once like being armed with bayonets towards cannons,” she stated. “We’ve in point of fact misplaced the need to battle.”


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