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Paris-Roubaix looking increasingly certain to be called off

Prefect of Hauts-de-France region strongly hints in radio interview that he will not give authorisation for race

Paris-Roubaix is looking increasingly certain to be called off, with the Prefect of the Hauts-de-France region, which takes in the full route of the race, dropping a very strong hint in a radio interview this morning that he will not allow the race to go ahead.

The 118th edition of the Queen of the Classics is due to take place on Sunday 11 April. But as we reported on Friday, the region is now in a four-week lockdown due to a third wave of COVID-19, casting serious doubt on the race taking place.

> Paris-Roubaix at risk as northern France re-enters lockdown due to fears of third wave of COVID-19

Earlier this month, Paris-Roubaix race director Thierry Gouvenou of organisers ASO secured the necessary authorisations from the Prefectures involved for the race to go ahead in March, but the latest lockdown means that new permissions need to be sought.

Speaking to France Bleu this morning, Hauts-de-France Prefect Michel Lalande, who is also the Prefect of the Nord department which includes Roubaix , left listeners in little doubt over what his ultimate decision will be.

Asked if Paris-Roubaix would go ahead this year, he said: “That’s an excellent question, thank you for asking me it. I guarantee you the scoop when the time comes for the reply, but you can guess what it will be.”

Milan-San Remo, the first Monument of the season took place on Saturday, nominally without spectators although TV images showed plenty of people at the roadside along the 299-kilometre route to watch the race go by.

Meanwhile, Belgium, which borders the Hauts de France region, is due to host the Three Days of La Panne this Wednesday and the E3 Saxo Bank Classic on Friday, with Lalande expressing surprise that those races are taking place.

“It will be necessary to explain the consistency [of permitting the races to take place] with the protective measures [wearing a mask, washing hands, social distancing, etc] and all the rest,” he added.

Last year’s planned edition – which was also due to see the debut of the women’s version of Paris-Roubaix – was initially postponed from April to October, but the rearranged event was cancelled due to a second wave of the coronavirus, the first occasion outside wartime that the race, first held in 1896, has not taken place.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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