The Spring Classics
We are into a new year and The Spring Classics are just round the corner, commencing early in March! These are the most anticipated Road Cycling events of the year. Rather than short sprint races, the Classics represent a chance to see the story of cycling unfold. Whether you are new to Road Cycling or a seasoned Veteran, read on to find out what makes these races so special, how they are steeped in unique history, and how each race respectively demands the very best of a unique set of skills from the riders.
What are The Spring Classics?
The Spring Classics signal that the Winter Road Bike Racing Break is over and mark the start of the racing calendar for the year. First inaugurated in 1934 - the Spring Classics truly herald prestige among road racing aficionados and enthusiasts. Four of the Spring Classic Races make up Five of the Monument Races for the year (the most coveted and prestigious races of the road bike racing calendar year) - the 5th Monument Race is the Giro-o-Lombardia, held in Autumn.
The Italian Classics
The First Italian Spring Classic: Strade Bianche is a relative newcomer to the Spring Classic Calendar. First inaugurated in 2007 Strade Bianche has become now a major draw card in the racing calendar and signals the start of the Spring Classics. Riding over the beautiful white plains for Tuscany, it is a wonderfully scenic ride. Chalky white roads, quintessentially of the Italian countryside, demand a varied set of skills as the rider often navigates steep inclines and winding descents.
The Second Italian Spring Classic: Milan-San Remo is one of the oldest cycling races in the world. Inaugurated in 1907, it is the longest race by length of the spring classics at over 300 Kilometers. Despite being a steep inclined race it is often referred to as a ‘sprint classic’ due to the sprint nature of the finish to the race.
The Cobbled Classics
Consisting of four races ridden across Belgium, The Cobblestone races make for a challenging environment for even the most experienced of riders. Once the inevitable rain has commenced the smooth cobblestones become a difficult terrain to navigate for riders, inviting slips and falls. Coupled with the competitive nature of group cycling, collisions inevitably often occur.
Over 200km in length and covering short quick climbs across Belgium's Flemish Country Side Length E3 Harelbeke kicks off the Cobbled Classics. First raced in 1958, the finish is particularly exciting as Riders cover a complicated series of descents.
Gent-Welvegem is raced in late March, and conditions can be particularly challenging with frequent wind and rain hindering the visibility of the rider.
The next Cobbled Classic, the Tour of Flanders - arguably the most popular of the races, huge crowds amass to see the finish as riders cross the line. The rider requires a skill set of all rounded brilliance to complete this physically enduring race.
Finally, The Paris Roubaix is perhaps the most arduous ride of the calendar that challenges the most enduring of riders and signals the finale of the Cobbled Classics. Conditions are often tough with visibility impaired. Rain is an almost certainty causing the conditions to become particularly perilous.
Following the Cobbled Classic and marking the start of Spring in April and the return of finer , yet still rainy weather, the gradient-proven races of the Ardennes begin. Riders negotiate steep gradients and inclines over 8 days and three races:
The Amstel Gold Event marks the commencement of the Ardennes Classics and was first inaugurated in 1966. The route winds through the Rolling Dutch Countryside and through challenging narrow inner village streets and lanes.
La Fleche Wallone meaning “The Walloon Arrow'' was first run in 1936. Featuring particularly steep inclines, it is a challenging circuit that challenges the very best of climbers.
The Liege-Bastogne-Liege is perhaps the most coveted and the closing race of the Ardennes Classics. Notable for its particularly steep inclines, the race requires immense physical strength and endurance on the part of the rider, it is famed for its steep history, first inaugurated in 1892. Often considered one of the most physically intense and grueling cycling events in the world, this one is not to be missed!
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