In early 2021, the rumor mill was working overtime, and indications were that the 2021 edition of the cobbled classic, Paris-Roubaix (originally scheduled for April 11) would be cancelled due to COVID-19 in France. Unfortunately, those rumors have turned out to be true, and the promoter, ASO, has rescheduled Paris-Roubaix for October 2-3, 2021.
Race affected by 3-week lockdown
Organizers sought to make accommodations to allow the race to go on, but were ultimately unable to move forward given the new 3-week lockdown recently ordered by French President Emmanuel Macron in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
While the 2021 cycling season, for the most part, has been marked by well-designed "bubbles", isolation, testing, and largely successful prevention protocols thus far, concern was expressed that it wasn't possible to prevent fans from lining the roads as is normal at this race.
Paris-Roubaix 2020 was cancelled outright
The 2020 edition of Paris-Roubaix, originally scheduled for April 12, 2020, was first postponed to October 25, 2020, but a few weeks before the new date arrived, the race was cancelled outright. With the recent postponement of the 2021 edition, more than 2.5 years will have passed before riders finally tackle the cobbles again.
Scheduling conflicts for multi-discipline riders
For the increasing number of riders who compete in cyclocross, road, and MTB, the revised date may create some scheduling challenges. The UCI recently released an updated 2021-2022 cyclocross calendar, which kicks off with 3 high-profile World Cup events in the USA in October to open the season:
- Waterloo - October 10, 2021
- Fayetteville - October 13, 2021
- Iowa - October 17, 2021
In addition to those 3 early World Cups, the Superprestige series starts October 3rd (back in Europe) as well. Riders like Tom Pidcock and Wout van Aert who compete in multiple disciplines may have some challenging travel schedules and/or difficult decisions to make about when and where to race. These overlaps might mean sacrificing chances for overall Superprestige, World Cup, or X2O Badkamers series titles.
Many road-focused riders also attempt to peak for the Spring Classics; their season does not typically extend into Fall. With Paris-Roubaix now scheduled for October, it will be interesting to see if they can peak again during what is normally their off-season. The race will not be surrounded by preparation races in the area, as it typically is.
The first-ever women's Paris-Roubaix
2020 should have been the first-ever women's edition of Paris-Roubaix, with these recent updates, we'll be looking forward to October 2021 for the first-ever women's edition to go off. Instead of men and women tackling the course on the same day, they'll now race on separate days over a single weekend.
The overlapping schedule creates some interesting challenges; Lucinda Brand, for example, has announced she'll visit the USA for the 3 cyclocross World Cups, forgoing an opportunity to compete in the first edition of the women's Paris-Roubaix. This is an unfortunate conflict that would not occur had the race kept it's original calendar.
Paris-Roubaix 2021 Live stream
In early 2021, we expected to see Paris-Roubaix on NBC Sports and their Gold Cycling Pass streaming package, who had the broadcast rights to Paris-Roubaix in the USA for 2021. The Spring edition of Paris-Roubaix did not materialize, however, and while we were waiting patiently for the Fall edition, NBC discontinued their Gold Cycling Pass package entirely!
So (for USA viewers) how to tune in to the October 2021 edition of Paris-Roubaix?
NBC, who stillhold the broadcast rights for the men's race, moves Paris-Roubaix from Gold Cycling Pass to their Peacock streaming platform for the October 2021 edition.
On the women's side, strangely, BOTH GCN+ and Peacock advertise that they'll be showing the 1st edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes. It's a bit unusual to have two streaming providers, but hey, we'll take it!
Remember - these races aren't on the same day - women race on Saturday October 2, followed by the men on Sunday October 3.
It will be a busy streaming weekend - for GCN+ members, don't forget that also happening on Paris-Roubaix weekend is the Charm City Cyclocross stop on the USCX series, which GCN+ is live-streaming for the first time this year.