Doubts about the Paris-Roubaix run this spring have increased after a local politician strongly suggested that the races could not continue in the current COVID-19 pandemic in France.
The men’s race and the initial edition of the women’s race were postponed last spring and were then canceled completely due to restrictions on the timing of the rescheduled October dates. A similar scenario looks increasingly likely as the number of cases continues to increase in France and new lock-in measures are introduced.
Michel Lalande, leader of the Hauts-de-France region, appeared on France Bleu radio station on Monday morning and was asked directly if the races would take place on 1
“It’s an excellent question, thank you for asking. I promise you scoop when there is an answer, but you can guess what it will be,” he said cryptically.
When he was told he did not seem optimistic, he said: “I see the sky a little less blue …”
Race organizer ASO did not comment when contacted by Cycling news.
Hauts-de-France in northwestern France has been particularly hit by high COVID-19 case numbers in recent weeks, and the entire region was put under strict lockdown on Saturday and lasted for at least four weeks – the weekend after Paris-Roubaix.
Lalande struck a similar tone in October last year, despite the fact that the mayor of Roubaix confidently said that the races could go safely. The ASO outlined potential measures to limit roadside attendance following the successful completion of a rescheduled Tour de France, but local authorities eventually felt compelled to reject it.
The Roubaix velodrome, where the races end, can easily be closed to the public, but it is more difficult to keep fans away from the famous cobblestone sectors. Recent promotions in Belgium, however, have kept the numbers down during the opening of the Classics, and the recent Paris-Nice went through an area in lock e if the final stages were moved from the center of Nice to allow locals to spend time on the Promenade des Anglais seafront.
It was pointed out to Lalande that the other cobbled classics in Belgium – starting on Wednesday with Driedaagse De Panne – continue, despite a similar increase in cross-border case numbers.
“You have to explain the logic of it, with the security measures and everything else,” he said.