Cycling: NZ's George Bennett bracing for Tour de France delay

Kiwi pro cyclist George Bennett is tempering his expectations over the likelihood of the Tour de France avoiding a coronavirus-enforced delay.

The race that brings the cycling world to a standstill has a tentative start date of July 25, although recent reports out of France suggest it's likely to be pushed back until late August.

Speaking from his Andorran mountain base, Bennett told Newshub that the current situation in Europe spells bad news for the iconic race.

"That date, when you see what's happening here over in Europe, is still pretty optimistic," Bennett said.

"If you told someone in Spain you were thinking of doing a bike race on July 25, they'd just laugh in your face. There are just far bigger problems at the moment.

"The Tour de France is crucial to holding the cycling world up and at the moment, like every other sport, cycling is in a lot of trouble.

"It'd be great for the cycling world and as much as I'm optimistic, I'm realistic that it's a big ask."

But the 30-year-old is ensuring he's ready to ride whatever the outcome may be, although strict lockdown rules in the principality have severely limited his training options.

Already a month down, the quarantine period has just been extended indefinitely.

"It's nothing like New Zealand… there's no going out for a walk, nothing. If you leave your apartment, you need to be going to the pharmacy or the supermarket."

For Bennett, it's all a matter of perspective.

"It sucks, but all we have to do is stay inside. It's not like we have to go through some traumatic experience - you just have to not do anything.

"There are days when you get down and getting on your bike would be a dream, but it's just not an option really."

Technology has allowed Bennett to 'get out on the road' with his Team Jumbo-Visma colleagues, via an online platform connected to his home-training bike.

"It's hooked up to your power meter. You put in your weight, and you can go in and race people online.

"This morning, we have an internal team race. We all log in and it's a bit of a laugh, but we kind of race each other around on the internet."

As far as a simulation of a real road race, it's "not even close", but beggars can't be choosers, Bennett adds.

"There's an element of reality, but what's unrealistic is that I don't know a pro who's won an online race yet.

"We're all getting our heads kicked in by amateurs, who are either lying about their weight or know something we don't.

"I normally hate riding the home trainer. It's not really cycling to me, but at least it's maintaining some kind of form and allows you to blow off some steam, do a couple of hours a day and rip around on the pedals."