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Paris-Roubaix Challenge gets less challenging

Shorter course, no timing and no velodrome finish for revised event

In business, as in life, it’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver. Do it the other way round and you put your reputation on the line and open up the door to a world of grief, as the organisers of the Paris-Roubaix Challenge are finding out.

You might think an organisation with the scale, experience and resources of the Amaury Sport Organisation would have learned such basic lessons a long time ago, but judging by the reformatting of their Paris-Roubaix Challenge event, apparently not.

ASO had promised that the Challenge, on April 9, would offer virtually the full experience of the real event due to take place a day later. That would have meant 162km of timed, competitive riding, some of it on closed roads and with a finish at the fabled Roubaix velodrome.

But now the organisers have cited their inability to secure the services of the local police as the prime reason for shortening the course to 138km, removing the timing arrangements, and having the event finish not in the velodrome but instead about 10 miles short of Roubaix.

A press release from ASO states: “A few days before the event, a thorough study of the means of security having to be set up during the same weekend as the elite Paris-Roubaix race, has forced us to change the format of Paris-Roubaix Challenge.

"Despite the efforts of the authorities in charge, we do not have the possibility of validating the private use of the circulation paths.”

Participants have been offered either a full refund or a reduced entry rate of 40 euros.

A spokeswoman for sportswear maker Rapha, who have been involved in marketing the event, said: “We are commercial partners with ASO, it’s a really unfortunate set of circumstances especially so late in the day but we’re sure that it’s unavoidable.”

The ASO press release says that the organisation will run the Challenge again next year, but in the format that was originally promised, complete with timing facilities. has contacted ASO to find out what response the organisation has had from Challenge entrants but so far we have had no response.

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