Shortened Roubaix Challenge route loses velodrome finish
Participants in the Paris-Roubaix Challenge cyclosportive, which takes place on Saturday April 9, have just had what was to be a very tough event made ever-so-slightly easier.
Organisers ASO have been forced to shorten their planned course from 162km to 138km, which includes omitting the famous Roubaix velodrome finish.
The event was due to mirror the pro event that takes place 24 hours later, complete with the same cobbled sectors, the finish at the velodrome and timing chips for all competitors.
However, a lack of police manpower to close the roads is the reason for the late changes, a disappointed Laurent Boquillet, organiser of the Paris-Roubaix Challenge, told Cycling Weekly.
"Because of the pro race happening the next day, there simply wasn't going to be enough police presence for our ride," he said.
"Regretfully, we've had to agree that shortening the event and not closing the roads is the best solution, as we've come so far with the organisation of the event."
It will instead now be run as a randonnée, without closed roads, and with the timing element removed, rendering it non-competitive. However, 400 volunteer marshals will still be on hand to help the ride go smoothly and point riders in the right direction. The event will still start in Saint Quentin, but will now finish following the Carrefour de l'Arbre section of cobbles.
The organisers have offered participants the choice of riding the event with a reduced entry fee of €40, or of withdrawing and getting a full refund.
Despite the necessary changes, the route will still cover 28.8km of cobbles - 15 sectors - and enjoy full Mavic support and four feed stations. Riders will also still receive their ride goody bag, which includes a Rapha t-shirt.
"To say that I'm disappointed is an understatement," continued Boquillet, "but we're trying to make the best of it. We know that people will be disappointed, but hope that people will still want to ride."
Plans to run next year's event as this year's was intended are already underway, but Boquillet added that some local businesses in Roubaix had also objected to two days' worth of road closures and disruption, and admitted that a date change could be on the cards in light of this year's problems.
"Next year, we hope that the event will be back to being what we hoped it would be this year, with closed roads, timing chips and the finish at the Roubaix velodrome," said Boquillet. "I'm just not sure that we will organise it on the same weekend as the Paris-Roubaix race itself, though. It just seems too complicated."
Entered riders should email the organisers at email@example.com to inform them whether they still wish to ride for the reduced entry fee of €40, or whether they wish to withdraw from the event and receive a full refund. More info can be found at www.parisroubaixchallenge.com