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Paris-Bourges and GP Fourmies cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic

Fans watch the peloton go by at the 2003 GP Fourmies. (Image credit: Getty Images)

While plans continue for the delayed Tour de France to take place in September, it has been confirmed that the 2020 editions of Paris-Bourges and the Grand Prix de Fourmies have been cancelled due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Grand Prix de Fourmies was due to take place on September 13, which would have clashed with the rescheduled Tour de France. Organiser Jacques Thibaux told La Voix du Nord that the COVID-19 protocols required to hold the race were "too restrictive" and he also noted that the UCI ProSeries event would have had limited television exposure to its overlap with the Tour. 

"There is this limit of 5,000 spectators, with a strong urging to wear a mask. On what basis must you choose them? First come, first served? The oldest?" Thibaux told La Voix du Nord. "If there is no public, there is no festival. It’s the whole ensemble that makes it a popular success."

Although the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal, also due to take place on September 13, had been cancelled, Thibaux was also mindful that his race on the Franco-Belgian border would be overshadowed by the Tour de France, which features a summit finish on the Grand Colombier that same day.

"Alongside that, the Grand Prix de Fourmies would have been anecdotal," he said. "We wouldn’t have had the usual television coverage and the publicity for Fourmies would have been inexistent."

The GP de Fourmies was founded in 1928 and its only previous cancellations were during the Second World War. 

Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) beat Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) to win last year's GP de Fourmies. Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) had been among the riders expected to participate this year.

Earlier on Thursday, the organisation of Paris-Bourges confirmed that the 2020 edition of the race had been cancelled. The UCI 1.1 event was due to take place on October 8, three days before Paris-Tours.

Laurent Planchon, president of L'Union Bourges Cher Cyclisme, told Le Berry Républicain that the race had been cancelled for economic reasons, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The main reason for this cancellation is economic," Planchon said. "Many of our partners have been affected by the coronavirus crisis and it was difficult for them to accompany us this year."

Marc Sarreau (Groupama-FDJ) won last year's Paris-Bourges. The race previous winners include Sam Bennett, John Degenkolb, Mat Hayman, Laurent Jalabert, Sean Kelly and Cyrille Guimard.

Professional cycling will resume in France on August 1 with the four-day Route d’Occitanie. The Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge, Tour de l’Ain, Critérium du Dauphiné, French Championships, European Championships and Bretagne Classic are also on the calendar before the planned Grand Départ of the Tour in Nice on August 29.