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Paris-Roubaix not yet off says French sports minister

ROUBAIX FRANCE APRIL 14 Philippe Gilbert of Belgium and Team DeceuninckQuickStep Peter Sagan of Slovakia and Team BORA hansgrohe Nils Politt of Germany and Team KatushaAlpecin 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 Stephane ManteyPoolGetty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

A final decision to cancel or postpone the men's and women's Paris-Roubaix has not yet been taken, according to France's minister for sport, offering some hope that the racing can go ahead or at worst be postponed. 

Roxana Maracineau appeared on the France Info radio station on Thursday, the morning after multiple French media outlets reported the races would not take place as planned on April 11 due to the coronavirus situation in northern France. 

Last year's Paris-Roubaix was postponed from April because of the first COVID-19 lockdown, rescheduled for late October but then cancelled due to a second wave of the virus.

Le Parisien and France Bleu reported that an announcement from the UCI and race organiser ASO was due on Wednesday afternoon, but L'Equipe, which is owned by race organiser ASO, suggested a final call would only come next week. 

Maracineau echoed that, although did not add much hope that the races will go ahead this spring. It appears more likely that Paris-Roubaix will be moved to October with October 17 and 24 possible dates.

"The decision has not been definitively taken, but it's an area where there's a real health problem - not enough beds, a lot of sick people," she said, highlighting the COVID-19 problems in northern France.  

"Maybe the event will have to be postponed."

However, she did refer to the possibility of the race being held with restrictions such as stopping the public from travelling to see the race.  

"In any case, it would be under conditions that wouldn't allow for this event to go ahead as we know it."

Maracineau also referred to comments made this week by Michel Lalande, head of the Hauts-de-France region where Paris-Roubaix plays out and where strict lockdown measures were introduced at the weekend. 

Lalande said on Monday that he didn't have an answer as to whether the race could go ahead, but that "you can probably guess". He appeared surprised that other one-day races are going ahead in Belgium over the next two weeks. 

"He [Lalande] has taken his responsibilities, and we are still in discussion with him," Maracineau said. 

ASO declined to comment when contacted by Cyclingnews. 

The race organiser is understood to have presented safety proposals to the relevant authorities in a bid to show the race can be held safely, as it did in October in the run-up to the rescheduled 2020 editions. 

Those races were ultimately cancelled, and that remains the threat for April 11.

According to Le Parisien, local authorities deem the health situation so critical that public resources shouldn't be devoted to a cycling race.

If unable to go ahead, ASO would likely talk to the UCI to seek a new date later in the year. The UCI has already extended the 2021 season until October 31 to allow for the rescheduling of postponed races.