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The 2021 edition of Paris-Roubaix took place in October
Lappartient suggests October Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders amid calls for calendar reform
UCI president voices desire for more coherent, environmentally-friendly season structure, and suggests a 50km summit finish race
After causing a stir with his comments on the cyclo-cross calendar, UCI president David Lappartient has taken aim at road racing’s season structure, even suggesting Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders could move to October.
Lappartient, speaking to DirectVelo, pointed to the delayed scheduling of the two cobbled Monuments during the COVID-19 pandemic, arguing that the races were a success in their unfamiliar slots.
The 2020 edition of Flanders took place in October as Paris-Roubaix was cancelled altogether and, while the Flemish race returned to the Spring in 2021, the so-called Hell of the North was bumped to October due to lockdowns in France.
“The audiences were fantastic,” Lappartient said. “I’m not saying we must necessarily repeat that, but it’s not out of the question.
“In any case, those two races must follow on from one another in order to maintain a logical build-up to those specific races.”
This year was the first time since 2019 that the two Monuments had taken place on their traditional consecutive weekends in early April, since regional elections forced Paris-Roubaix back a week in 2022. That had knock-on effects for the Ardennes Classics campaign, which is another area Lappartient would not be afraid to mess around with.
“Why not swap Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia?” he added, referring to two of the other one-day Monuments. Liège is the oldest of the lot and traditionally takes place in late April, while Lombardia is a late-season affair as part of a block of Italian one-day races, and even carries the name ’The race of the falling leaves’, which wouldn’t be so applicable in April.
“There of course has to be some sense to all this,” Lappartient added.
Lappartient did, however, praise the cobbled Classics campaign in its current format, on environmental grounds, as he went on to highlight the threat of heatwaves to the current calendar slots of the Tour Down Under and Vuelta a España.
From the De Panne Classic through E3, Gent-Wevelgem, Dwars door Vlaanderen, Tour of Flanders, Scheldeprijs and Paris-Roubaix, there is a hub in northern Belgium for the best part of three weeks during the Spring, which Lappartient described as 'magnificent'.
“It’s imperative we avoid going from the Netherlands to the south of Spain, to then go back up to England,” he said. “It’s too fidgety. Rather than going to a country five or six times, let’s do so in one more compacted period.”
While the Classics period may be coherent, it doesn’t stand alone, with WorldTour racing taking place simultaneously at the Volta a Catalunya and Itzulia Basque Country stage races. That sort of overlap is something that has been highlighted as a problem for some time now, and it’s at the heart of the latest reported attempts to reform cycling as a whole, through Richard Plugge’s One Cycling project.
It’s unclear how involved the UCI is with those talks, but Lappartient seems to be singing from the same hymn sheet.
“We have to optimise what we have,” he said, highlighting the less cluttered nature of the women’s calendar. “Of course, there isn’t the same density of teams and riders, but there are no overlaps.”
Among the other ideas suggested in brief by Lappartient were adjusting the days of the week that races take place, with a priority on weekends, as well as bolstering the early-season calendar and making it more international.
He also suggested more inventive race formats, including a hill climb of sorts – a 50km route with a summit finish. "It would generate a spectacle".
It's unclear how all this would – and indeed could – work out, but what's apparent is that there's a real appetite for change from the top of the sport's governing body.
Patrick is GCN’s Deputy Editor, writing and shaping content across all areas of the website