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Prudhomme confident for Paris-Nice, makes no comment on Paris-Roubaix, Tour de France

ASO boss Christian Prudhomme positive that Paris-Nice will complete all eight stages, refuses to commit to future races as coronavirus epidemic intensifies.

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Christian Prudhomme feels “100 percent” sure that Paris-Nice will defy the coronavirus epidemic and come to a successful conclusion Sunday.

However, the ASO boss “cannot say anything” about whether flagship events Paris-Roubaix and the Tour de France will go ahead as planned as government restrictions and public fears of the health crisis escalate by the day.

“I can simply say that at this moment, this Wednesday afternoon, we received assurances that 100 percent Paris-Nice will arrive in Nice,” Prudhomme said in an interview with French outlet La Parisien yesterday. “It is the truth of the moment but the race will arrive well in Nice.”

When asked about the future of season-highlights Paris-Roubaix and the Tour de France, Prudhomme was less assertive however.

“We are 100% concentrated in Paris-Nice,” he said. “I cannot say anything else because it is reality. For the rest, we will respect the directives if there are any.”

Paris-Nice, due to start its fifth stage Thursday, has defied the odds by continuing as planned while a swathe of Italian races, including Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-Sanremo were canceled as coronavirus swept through Italy, later leaving the nation in lockdown.

The eight-stage race through France hasn’t gone totally unaffected by health fears and government directives, and on stage 2, Monday, began closing off start and finish areas to the public after French authorities placed a ban on public gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

“It is the essence of our sport to mingle with people,” Prudhomme said about Paris-Nice being raced ‘behind closed doors’. “It hurts your heart. But in exceptional circumstances, exceptional measures. And the public understands this well, you know. The message went well.”

While the racing at Paris-Nice may be without spectators, at least there is racing. The same may not be true for Paris-Roubaix and the Tour. While refusing to shed too much light on the future of ASO’s two flagship events, Prudhomme was keen to remind La Parisien that his organization is dynamic and flexible in reacting to events.

“We are constantly adapting,” Prudhomme said. “Remember when the Tour was blocked last year in Tignes [due to landslides on stage 19]. We have an activity that goes through roads and villages. A lot happens sometimes before the tests. We must constantly react and find solutions. So we have this ability to change our plans if necessary. Whenever local authorities ask us for something, we do it. It is even our specialty.”

Makes sure to tune in to Paris-Nice this week, as no-one can be certain when you’ll see a bike race again in the next few months.