Paris — In normal times the Tour de France is a brutal and boisterous cycling marathon marked out from rival bike races by the huge crowds that line the roads to catch a glimpse of the riders and spur them on to the finish line on the Champs-Elysées.

But the 2020 version of the world’s greatest cycling race will be anything but normal, with the spectators who traditionally gather in towns and villages up and down France forced to stay away, or to keep their distance and wear face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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