April 02, 2021
Over the past few weeks, 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.
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 2020 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
This seems like a potential positive for streaming and TV coverage - instead of sporadic women's coverage sprinkled throughout the longer men's day, we'll hopefully have a full day of dedicated coverage of the women's event. That outcome depends on NBC Sports and their Gold Cycling Pass team, who have the broadcast rights to Paris-Roubaix in the USA for 2021. They didn't respond to my inquiry asking if they planned to include the women's edition as part of their 2021 broadcast - but with the recent postponement, they now have 6 months to figure it out.
May 07, 2021