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Coronavirus: Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders unlikely to run, say race organisers

Cyclists compete during the 116th edition of the ParisRoubaix oneday classic cycling race between Compiegne and Roubaix on April 8 2018 at the Trouee dArenberg stage near Wallers northern France AFP PHOTO JEFF PACHOUD Photo credit should read JEFF PACHOUDAFP via Getty Images
The peloton tackle the Arenberg at the 2018 edition of Paris-Roubaix (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

ASO head Christian Prudhomme has confirmed that it's unlikely that Paris-Roubaix will be run next month. The news comes after the French Cycling Federation announced on Friday that all races in the country at all levels would be suspended until further notice.

After a wave of cancellations due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and the resulting number of government decrees halting public gatherings, no WorldTour races are scheduled until early April. It's highly likely that the cancellations will continue into April though. Indeed, May's Giro d'Italia has already been postponed.

"All sports stopped and cycling is no different from the others," Prudhomme told French radio station RMC. "I don't expect much to change in April. I imagine that, in the coming days, the decisions of the UCI and local authorities will be the same, which is quite logical. 

"My word is not official, but it is hard to see how Roubaix could be different from the rest of the races.

"It is still more than a hundred days to the Grand Départ," he added, referring to the Tour de France. "That is still a very long time. When people get back to normal activities – and we all hope it will be as soon as possible – there will undoubtedly be a greater frenzy and passion than before!"

Prudhomme's statements come after Flemish sports minister Ben Weyts cast doubt on the future of the spring's other cobbled Monument, the Tour of Flanders.

Weyts said on Friday evening that it likely won't be feasible to run the race, even if it comes two days after the government's current decree to halt sports events, among other things, is set to expire.

"Let's be honest, I don't think it will be feasible," Weyts told Flemish radio station Radio 1. "We must show a sense of responsibility."

Tomas Van Den Springel, CEO of the Flanders Classics organisation, which runs Flanders as well as several other already-cancelled races, said that a decision on the race could come on Monday.

"The decision on whether or not to race the Tour of Flanders doesn't really depend on us," he told Het Nieuwsblad. "That authority lies in the government's hands. Minister Weyts announced this earlier. That's all I can say. 

"Maybe after the weekend there will be a final decision. There are more important things now than the race. Wait and see it the motto.

"You cannot impose measures until April 3 and then organise the largest festival in Flanders on April 5. We have to understand that it's heading in the direction of cancellation."

The spring racing schedule has already been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, with RCS Sport forced to cancel Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo, and Flanders Classics calling off E3 BinckBank Classic, Gent-Wevelgem and Dwars door Vlaanderen.

ASO cancelled the final stage of Paris-Nice, though the race continued to Saturday, even as major sports events and leagues around the world were cancelled on Thursday and Friday. Driedaagsee Brugge-De Panne and the Volta a Catalunya were among a host of other March races which have been cancelled.