To this point, the 2021 cycling season has gone ahead with relatively few issues. This is certainly the case when compared to the 2020 campaign which was decimated due to the global pandemic. Multiple races were cancelled, including for the first time since World War II, Paris-Roubaix.
‘The Hell of the North’ is one of cycling’s five monuments and is perhaps the most popular and prestigious one-day race in cycling. However, in an article in La Parisienne in March it was reported that Paris Roubaix would be postponed for a third time and will not be taking place on April 11th.
After some deliberation from race organiser ASO, this was confirmed on 1st April. The race organisers have announced that there are plans for both the men's and women's Paris-Roubaix to be rescheduled for October. The women's race is now set to take place on 2nd October 2021, whereas the men's race has been rescheduled for 3rd October 2021.
Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu spoke to French radio in March, "it's an area where there is a real problem – not enough beds, a lot of sick people," she said. "Maybe the event will have to be postponed."
We were set to witness the inaugural Women’s Paris-Roubaix in 2020, yet this was delayed by a year due to the pandemic. The women will now have to wait at least 18 months from when the event was orginally scheduled.
Speaking to France Bleu on 19th March, Michel Lalande, who is the prefect of the Hauts-de-France region which encompasses Roubaix, was asked about Paris-Roubaix. “I'll give you an answer when the time is right, but you can guess it”, said Laland.
All WorldTour races for men and women have gone ahead in 2021 thus far, including Strade Bianche, Milan-Sanremo and Trofeo Alfredo Binda. Paris-Roubaix was far from the only event to fall to the pandemic last year, though. Other WorldTour events that were cancelled include the Volta Catalunya, Amstel Gold Race and the Tour de Romandie. However, the Volta Catalunya has returned to the calendar in 2021 concluded successfully in the northern Spanish region.
Paris-Roubaix, 2019 (Alex Broadway/SWpix)
Despite this news, the Belgian Classics are expected to continue. When asked on this matter, Lalande responded, “Someone will have to explain to me the coherence between the safety precaution for COVID. Someone will have to explain it to me." Clearly, Lalande was surprised that racing in Belgium is set to continue amidst the pandemic.
Adding to his earlier comments, Lalande said, “The sky now looks less blue”. Many would’ve hoped for the clouds to show themselves on the day of Paris-Roubaix – reminiscent of one of the historic unpredictable wet races.
We hope that the sky will remain blue and we will see Paris-Roubaix take place in October.