Regrettably, it is now business “as usual” for the cycling calendar of 2021. Reports are surfacing that the 118th edition of the Paris-Roubaix is to be either outright called off or, at the very least, postponed until later in the year, in response to a rapid rise in coronavirus cases throughout northern France.
New restrictions on the country were imposed over the weekend, effectively locking down nearly a third of the population of the country, including the capital city Paris itself. The news is gutting. So close to the scheduled April 11th start time, the news will be devastating for the teams who have worked so hard to get their riders and staff to the start line, covid-free. It will be an especially cruel blow to the women’s division, as they were scheduled to hold their first ever version of the event. Now, two weeks out from a historic starting gun, they will have to tread water a while longer as they wait for the situation to unfold.
According to Le Parisien, one of Paris’ most respectable news outlets, a final decision has been made on the postponement of the event, with an announcement possibly due today on the new date of the races if, in fact, there are to be any. Conversely, L’Equipe have suggested that the race organisers will make an official announcement on the reschedule late next week, with a reconnaissance of the course scheduled for Wednesday before any final decision is made.
If these reports are to be believed, it’ll be the third time in the space of 12 months that the event has been “called off,” with the race being postponed, last year, until October, before being cancelled outright for the year with a second wave of the coronavirus sweeping across France. Now, it looks likely that a similar, if not identical, scenario may present itself here, with Le Parisien floating a possible October date for the rescheduled 2021 edition.
Sensibly, the UCI has extended the official season from the 13th of October to the 31st, in order to account for any cancellations or subsequent postponements, so any rescheduled version of the race looks likely to take place in the second half of October 2021. With any luck, that time of year will, at the very least, be experiencing a lull in coronavirus cases, so that the race can go ahead with as little frustration as possible. Keep an eye on the Veloflow News and Blogs section for further updates on the state of the season as it progresses.