Paris-Bourges and Grand Prix de Fourmies cancel due to coronavirus

Two historic French races both canceled on the same day as financial and operating restrictions bite.

Only hours after the Canadian WorldTour races in GP Québec and GP Montréal were canceled Thursday, two iconic French races – Paris-Bourges and the Grand Prix de Fourmies – also announced that they were throwing in the towel for 2020.

The organizers of the historic Paris-Bourges (officially called Paris-Gien-Bourges), now in its 70th year, as well as the Grand Prix de Fourmies, both announced that the 2020 edition of their events would not be held this year. The reasons, however, differed.

For Paris-Bourges – a key warm-up race for Paris-Tours scheduled for October 8 – financial concerns were the principal factor for the cancellation.

“The biggest reason for the cancellation is economical,” race organizer Laurent Planchon told the regional newspaper Le Berry Republican. “So many of our partners have been affected by the economic crisis that is a result of the coronavirus and it is just too difficult for them to support us this year. As a result, the organizing committee made a quick decision so that the teams have time to reorganize.”

Meanwhile the organizers of the Grand Prix de Fourmies, a popular circuit race in the north of France, also announced they were canceling their event scheduled for September 13. But for the race organizers, the principal difficulty was the sanitary restrictions imposed on race organizers by the UCI. The 88th edition of Fourmies will have to wait until 2021, the organizers confirmed Thursday.

“It’s a historic decision,” race director Jacques Thibaux told his regional paper La Voix du Nord. Since its inception in 1928, the Fourmies race has only been canceled six times.

For Thibaux, the biggest challenge is the sanitary measures, which he simply felt would be too complicated to guarantee.

“There is this limit to having no more than 5,000 spectators. How do we decide who can come? Is it the first people to arrive? Is it the oldest? If there is no public there is no party,” Thibaux said.

Fourmies, which is on the French and Belgian border, always attracts an abundance of fans and has an operating budget of roughly 250,000 euros, some of which is state-supported. “It’s a popular event. We can’t spend that kind of money just for a bike race.”