sport news Tour de France riders fear they will catch Covid-19 from fans lining climbs ...

Riders of the Tour de France have pleaded with fans lining the climbs to keep their masks on reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

During Saturday's first stage in the Pyrenees mountains, many spectators did not respect the two-meter distance required by organisers as they cheered their favourite riders.

Others were pictured with their masks below their noses and chins as the peloton made it's way up the mountain as social distancing proved difficult to be enforced along parts of the 87-mile stretch of road. 

Riders of the Tour de France have pleaded with roadside spectators to keep their masks on

Riders of the Tour de France have pleaded with roadside spectators to keep their masks on

'It's definitely an issue,' said Sunweb's Nicholas Roche. 'I think the photographs say it all. I had mixed feelings when I saw the fans on the Peyresourde and started getting goosebumps with the adrenaline again. I was like, "ah this is the Tour" and next thing straight away I was like, "no, this cannot be right".'

To access the climbs, race-going fans would need a bike and a mask, making the pictures of those wearing a facemask under their chins even more staggering.

'They had it underneath their chin so they could shout but you can also shout with your mask on,' Roche continued. 'Unfortunately, it's quite difficult to control…hopefully there will be more controls but I also feel sorry for the policemen who are fighting up there against all of that.' 

This year, on the rest day after stage nine, riders and sports directors will undergo a coronavirus test in a bid to reduced it's spread. 

Fans have been pictured cheering their favourite riders on without properly wearing a mask

Fans have been pictured cheering their favourite riders on without properly wearing a mask

In addition to their recovery routine, the 166 remaining riders will stay in their own 'bubble', with a Damocles sword hanging over their head as they will undergo coronavirus tests that will decide whether they can keep on racing.

Tour de France organisers said about 650 tests will be performed. Some took place on Sunday, with the majority of riders being tested Monday.

Although test results are not expected to be unveiled before Tuesday, teams will soon find out whether the virus has contaminated the race bubble.

'It would really be a shame to see a rider excluded from the Tour de France because he has been cheered on by not attentive enough fans,' Cofidis team manager Cedric Vasseur said.

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