Paris-Roubaix cycling classic postponed due to Covid for second year

Paris (AFP) –


French cycling classic the Paris-Roubaix, originally scheduled for Sunday, April 11, has been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the International Cycling Union said Thursday.

The race, known as the 'Hell of the North' and contested over old cobbled mining roads, has been rescheduled for October 3.

Roubaix is in France's Nord region which borders Belgium, where another of the sport's monuments, the Tour of Flanders, remains set for Sunday under strict Covid-19 safety protocol.

First staged in 1896, the Paris-Roubaix was cancelled last year for the first time since the Second World War.

The postponement comes a day after French President Emmanuel Macron announced coronavirus restrictions would be tightened across the country.

Schools will also be closed, following a sharp rise in infections in France which have been running at more than 40,000 a day.

Like the Tour de France, the Paris-Roubaix usually attracts large crowds of spectators and draws in high television figures in France.

"It's hard to imagine Paris-Roubaix being cancelled for a second time in two years," chief of the organisers Christian Prudhomme told AFP.

"We proposed a shortened version, but in the end this wasn't enough to meet with the security protocols," said Prudhomme, who described the eventuality as heart-breaking for those who had struggled to organise it.

Until last year, the only cancellations of the race were between 1915-1918 and 1940-1942.

The new dates of October 2 for the inaugural women's Paris-Roubaix and October 3 for the men's event were unanimously ratified at a UCI meeting chaired by its president David Lappartient.