Paris-Roubaix, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège postponed due to coronavirus pandemic
ASO 'have already begun working' on new dates for Monuments
Paris-Roubaix and the men’s and women’s Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège have been officially postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, organiser ASO said that it will seek new dates for the races, which were due to take place on April 12, 22 and 26, respectively. The sportives associated with Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège have also been postponed.
With Milan-San Remo already absent from the calendar this Saturday due to the Covid-19 pandemic, three of the Spring’s four Monuments have now been postponed, while it is expected that Flanders Classics will formally confirm the postponement of the Tour of Flanders this week.
“As part of the fight against the spread of Coronavirus (COVID19), Amaury Sport Organisation, with the agreement of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), has decided to not organise Paris-Roubaix (12th April), the Flèche Wallonne and the Flèche Wallonne Women (22nd April) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Liège-Bastogne-Liège Women (26th April) races on their scheduled dates,” ASO said in its statement.
Last week, despite French government restrictions on sporting events and public gatherings, and despite the withdrawal of seven WorldTour teams due to their concerns about the spread of Covid-19, ASO proceeded to organise Paris-Nice, which travelled from the hinterland of Paris to the Alps over seven days.
The Race to the Sun continued even after the French government prohibited public gatherings of 100 people or more, after two more teams withdrew en mass and after the French Cycling Federation announced the immediate suspension of races under its jurisdiction. The final stage of Paris-Nice was ultimately cancelled, and the race finished a day early at La Colmiane on Saturday.
After the conclusion of the race, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme conceded that it was unlikely that Paris-Roubaix or the Ardennes Classics would go ahead, and ASO issued formal confirmation on Tuesday afternoon.
“In close collaboration with the UCI and with the assistance of the other parties concerned, the organisers have already begun working to try to organise new dates for these monuments, races to which teams, riders and spectators are deeply attached,” read the ASO statement on Tuesday.
It seems likely that there will be no professional bike races for the remainder of March and the whole of April at the very least, while May’s Giro d’Italia has already been postponed. It remains wholly uncertain as to when or indeed whether professional cycling will be able to resume this season.
It is also unclear if the UCI will be able to facilitate new dates for postponed races in the latter part of the year. While ASO, like many other organisers, have postponed rather than cancelled their events at this juncture, other races like the Tour de Romandie and Tour de Bretagne have been cancelled outright.
Het Nieuwsblad has reported that the UCI will meet with race organisers next Tuesday to discuss the possibility of rescheduling their events for later in the year, though UCI president David Lappartient made no allusion that touted meeting in a statement calling for unity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am convinced that our sport, in all its diversity, will soon be back in our lives. It will get through this ordeal as it has in previous crisis situations that have marked world history,” Lappartient wrote. “In all corners of the world, on the roads, in the mountains, in the velodromes and urban parks, cyclists will again be able to live their passion. Until then, let's remain united.”
Paris-Roubaix was first held in 1896 and has only ever previously been interrupted by World War. The race was not held from 1915-1918 and from 1940-1942. If an alternative date is found in 2020, it will mark the first time that the Hell of the North has not taken place in March or April.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the oldest Monument, dates back to 1892, though it went on a 12-year hiatus early in its history, between 1895 and 1907. It was also interrupted by World War I and World War II, though an edition was held in 1943.
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Barry Ryan is Head of Features at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.