Cycle to MIPIM organiser Club Peloton has confirmed the two rides to MIPIM will take place this week, despite the conference itself being postponed until June.
"There are currently no FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] or WHO [World Health Organisation] advisories covering France or Spain, and no areas in these countries with local travel restrictions," Club Peloton said in an email to all riders today (1 March). "We therefore still intend to go ahead with both rides as planned this week."
Two rides are planned, one from London through Folkestone and Calais, the other from Valencia via Girona in Spain, both due to arrive in Cannes, France, on Tuesday 10 March during the MIPIM property conference. However, fears were growing last week that they would be cancelled, after many companies withdrew delegates from the conference due to the risk of contracting Coronavirus. And on Friday, MIPIM organiser Reed Midem postponed the conference until June 2-5. (The company's website states: "If the Event is postponed, the amount of the deposit or participation fee paid by Participant shall be carried over in view of their participation in the new event".)
Today Club Peloton put riders' fears to rest. Chief executive Nick Hanmer told Velocity: "The last three days have certainly been challenging but we are heartened by the support we're getting from riders and sponsors. The vans are en route to Spain."
Architect Chris Dyson, registered for the Valencia route, commented: "It's a wonderful consummation of many months of training through thick and thin weather and, in my own case, a detached retina in October. It's a significant milestone for all the riders in terms of the personal commitment we've put into it."
For cyclists forbidden by their companies from attending MIPIM, Club Peloton has added an option to transfer them on the final morning of the ride, Tuesday 10 March, to Aix TGV or Marseille Airport, to return home. None have taken up that option, so far. With MIPIM postponed, companies may now allow riders to finish the ride. However, some companies are prohibiting employees from any travel abroad.
"If I came back to the office and infected a colleague we could be shutting the office with financial and client departure impacts," said one banned rider. "I'm gutted but I've already moved on... training for Flanders now. Thinking of a solo unsupported ride to Cannes in June."
And concerns remain among other riders. Commenting on WhatsApp, one said: "I do have concerns about the potential quarantine impact... The world is going through a global health epidemic, which is being exasperated by international travel." While he appreciated the difficulty of Club Peloton's position, he suggested: "Surely postponing the ride is the only sensible option?" Others postulated on the potential PR downside for Club Peloton and its sponsors if riders were to become infected, or quarantined.
"I'm struggling to see how the ride is better or worse than taking the Northern Line [train] in and out of work every day," responded another rider. "My business' fear is more about a hotspot occurring in the south of France that then involves a quarantine."
One Cycle to MIPIM sponsor commented: "Going ahead is a very bold move by Club Peloton given how far things have moved in the past week... The risk is that there's only bad PR to be had, little networking, and riding enjoyment curtailed, with two weeks stuck in a Nice airport hotel. If anything were to go wrong it would surely affect future rides and I'm a bit surprised they didn't consult the sponsors."
Club Peloton said: "We will send a further update over the next couple of days and will keep you advised should there be any changes to our plans."
Meanwhile, for those still planning to ride, the prospect of an empty beach, empty bars, empty restaurants and some of Europe's finest cycling routes await.