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Reports: Paris-Roubaix to be canceled, Belgian classics in doubt

Surging coronavirus cases in northern Europe could force closure of Paris-Roubaix and this week's Belgian classics also at threat.

We may have to wait a little longer for Paris-Roubaix.

French outlet Le Parisien reports that “The Hell of the North” will not take place this April and that full confirmation will be made by organizers Wednesday.

Le Parisien states that surging COVID-19 cases in the Hauts-de-France region that hosts the race have forced the Ministry of Sports and Ministry of Health to postpone both the men’s and women’s races, scheduled for April 11. The 16 départements in north France were placed into a strict confinement protocol only last week.

Other reports, however, suggest a final decision over the race will not be made until next week.

Either way, a feared “fourth wave” of COVID infections could be throwing more chinks into cycling’s calendar.

Race organizers ASO had been continuing to push on with plans for the monument race, which was set to play out under strict sanitary regulations and with key cobbled sectors such as the Trouée d’Arenberg closed to the public.

Should Paris-Roubaix be forced out of its April slot, ASO is hoping that unlike 2020 when the race was shuttered altogether, they will be able to reschedule for late October. A similar plan was in place last year only the autumn edition was also forced to close down heightening coronavirus concerns in France.

E3 Saxo Bank Classic, Gent-Wevelgem also at threat

Separate reports in Belgian outlet Het Nieuwsblad have suggested that this week’s E3 Saxo Bank Classic and Gent-Wevelgem are also at risk of closure due to coronavirus spikes in Belgium.

Flanders Classics officials, however, told VeloNews on Wednesday that its fleet of races, which include Gent-Wevelgem and Tour of Flanders, are still being planned as scheduled.

Het Nieuwsblad reports that senior virologists are meeting Wednesday to discuss possible new measures for the cobbled races.

Belgian health officials overnight said more restrictions could be imminent following a recent spike in cases as Europe continues to struggle with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.