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Special ops units to police Tour de France for first time

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Special ops units to police Tour de France for first time
Photo: AFP
11:39 CEST+02:00
The world's favourite bicycle event Le Tour de France is set to be policed for the first time by the elite law enforcement agents from the GIGN this year.
The Tour de France will be monitored by the elite forces from the country's National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN) for the first time this year, said Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Tuesday. 
 
"It's our collective responsibility to ensure the safety of the spectators of the Tour de France," the minister said.
 
The GIGN special operatives work with counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, and the protection of government officials, among other things. 
The race will be monitored by helicopters, 50 police motorbikes, and 23,000 officers and and military police on foot patrol, the paper reported. 
 
"Everyone understands that this year the Tour de France is taking place in a particular context," said Cazeneuve, stressing that the "terrorist threat" remains "very high".
 
France's parliament confirmed last week a two-month extension of the state of emergency that has been in place since November's jihadist attacks to cover the Euro 2016 football tournament and Tour de France.
 
This year's race, the 103rd of its kind, will begin on July 2nd at Mont-Saint-Michel in northern France and will finish at the Champs-Elysées in Paris on July 24th.
 
The race, which has been running nearly continuously since 1903, draws up to 12 million spectators along the route.
 
"It doesn't just belong to the French. It is... distributed in 190 countries, covered by 2,000 journalists and watched by 3.5 billion TV viewers," Cazeneuve said.
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