Tour de France to continue as planned after attack in Nice
NYONS, France (AP) The Tour de France will continue as planned on Friday, a day after the deadly attack in Nice.
France is reeling again after a large truck mowed through a crowd of revelers gathered for a Bastille Day fireworks display in the Riviera city of Nice, killing at least 80 people on Thursday night. The attack, on France's national holiday, followed attacks last November in Paris that killed 130.
Defending champion Chris Froome, the race's current leader, posted a picture of the blue, white and red French flag on Twitter on Friday and wrote: ''Thoughts are with those affected by the horrific terror attack in Nice.''
Froome was scheduled to compete in the race's first time trial later Friday after organizers said the hilly 37.5-kilometer (23-mile) leg from Bourg-Saint-Andeol to La Caverne du Pont-D'Arc in the Ardeche region will go ahead despite the attack.
Tour director Christian Prudhomme said there will be a minute's silence at the start of the stage, several hours drive from Nice. There will be another ceremony at the finish, with a moment of silence involving the yellow jersey, the best sprinter and the best climber.
''Today, we want to pay homage to the victims with dignity,'' Prudhomme said. ''We have been asking ourselves if the race should continue and after consulting with authorities we have decided that it should. The Tour de France will continue in a subdued and solemn manner.''
The publicity caravan, which precedes the riders on the stage route everyday handing out free gifts and souvenirs and blasting loud music, rode silently Friday.
Security had already been reinforced at the Tour this year, with France in a state of emergency since the Paris attacks. The three-week race is protected by an unprecedented force of 23,000 police officers, including SWAT-like intervention squads, while security guards perform bag checks and pat downs at the start and finish of every stage.
Bauke Mollema, who was involved in a crash with Froome inside the last kilometer of Thursday's Stage 12 at Mont Ventoux when a TV motorbike was forced to stop on the road because of fans congestion, said his ''thoughts are with the people in Nice.''
Froome was awarded the same time as Mollema after he was forced to wait for a replacement bike following the incident, a decision that left Mollema unhappy. But the Dutch rider put his rivalry with Froome aside.
''I couldn't sleep yet and now read about something more important than the Tour,'' Mollema wrote on Twitter. '' … crazy world.''
French climber Romain Bardet also expressed sadness over the attack.
''Being French, gathering, celebrating, loving each other,'' he posted on social media. ''And never giving up. I'm thinking about Nice.''