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Fans banned from Tour de France stage finishes amid COVID-19 concerns

Daniel Martinez rides to the finish line at the end of the 13th stage. Benoit Tessier/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Authorities will reinforce restrictions on spectators on Tour de France climbs situated in coronavirus "red zones" to avoid mass gatherings, organisers said on Saturday.

The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) had announced on Friday that fans would not be allowed at stages finishes.

"The system will sensibly be the same as on Paris-Nice," Yann Le Moenner, the director general of ASO, told Reuters.

In March, no spectators were allowed at the finish of the Paris-Nice race, with a no-spectator line drawn 300 metres from the finish line, and within 100 metres from the start podium.

The measure is intended to prevent mass gatherings as fears grow in France of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"There will be a stronger filtering at the bottom of the climbs," Pierre-Yves Thouault, the head of cycling at ASO, told reporters before the start of Saturday's 14th stage to Lyon.

"There was already some filtering on 26 climbs. Now the filtering will be stricter, and no fans will be allowed at the top of the Col du Grand Colombier [the finish of Sunday's 15th stage], 400 metres from the line and 300 metres after the line," Thouault added, explaining that all decisions would be made by local authorities.

French administrative regions, known as departments, are classified as red zones when the spread of COVID-19 infections is high, with more than 50 new cases recorded per 100,000 inhabitants in the past seven days.

The number of new, confirmed COVID-19 cases in France rose by 9,406 on Friday to stand at a total of 363,350.

The number of COVID-19 deaths also climbed by 40 over the past 24 hours, to reach a total of 30,893.

France's has the seventh-highest COVID-19 death toll in the world.