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Paris-Roubaix called off due to COVID-19 situation in northern France

ROUBAIX FRANCE APRIL 14 Yves Lampaert of Belgium and Team DeceuninckQuickStep Philippe Gilbert of Belgium and Team DeceuninckQuickStep Wout Van Aert of Belgium and Team JumboVisma Peter Sagan of Slovakia and Team BORA hansgrohe Sep Vanmarcke of Belgium and Team EF Education First Nils Politt of Germany and Team KatushaAlpecin Windmill Peloton Cobblestones Fans Public during the 117th ParisRoubaix a 257km race from Compigne to Roubaix ParisRoubaix ParisRoubaix PRBX LEnfer du Nord on April 14 2019 in Roubaix France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) leads the peloton at the 2019 Paris-Roubaix (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The 118th edition of Paris-Roubaix and the inaugural edition of the Women’s Paris-Roubaix will not take place this spring, according to a report in Le Parisien.

The races, scheduled for April 11, have been under threat following new COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown restrictions in northern France introduced at the weekend. 

Cases are currently on the rise in the country, with 14,678 new cases reported on Tuesday and the north of the country badly affected.

On Wednesday, Le Parisien reported that a final decision has been made that the events cannot go ahead.  Race organiser ASO has not yet commented on the matter but reports suggest the postponement of the race, possibly to an end-of-season October date, will be made today. 

A subsequent report from L'Equipe suggested that ASO will announce a final decision next week, with organisers holding a course recon on Wednesday (March 24).

If ASO confirm the calling-off of Paris-Roubaix, it will make it the third time in the space of 12 months that the race has been called off, after the 2020 edition was postponed amid the first wave of the pandemic, and then called off entirely when a second wave struck at the time of the rescheduled October date.

The 2021 edition is likely to be postponed, rather than cancelled outright, with ASO to seek a new date later in the year. There is extra time to do so, with the UCI extending the end of the season from October 19 to October 31 “in case of other postponements this year”.

As was the case in October, meetings between ASO and local authorities in the Hauts-de-France region where Paris-Roubaix plays out did not lead to an outcome where the race was deemed safe to hold.

In October, following a successful running of the Tour de France, ASO set out a number of proposed safety measures to keep spectators away and minimise and COVID-19 contagion risk. Despite doing the same in recent days, and despite other one-day Classics seeming set to go ahead across the Belgian border, the situation in France was deemed so urgent as to necessitate the races being called off.

Case numbers have risen sharply in recent weeks amid what is feared to be a third wave of the virus in Europe, and the Hauts-de-France has been particularly affected. On Saturday, strict lockdown measures were introduced for the entire region, including a 7pm curfew.

On Monday, the head of the region Michel Lalande appeared on national radio and strongly suggested Paris-Roubaix would not go ahead. Since then, meetings have been held with the governmental departments for sport and health, along with ASO.

According to Le Parisien, it was concluded that “the health situation is so critical that it is unreasonable to devote a portion of public resources – notably police forces – to a cycling race”.

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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.