The Spring Cycling Classics are a great collection of races filled with rich cycling history. From the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix to the unpredictable roads and weather of the Tour of Flanders, the Spring Classics are a part of cycling tradition and make me personally very happy to follow. The following few paragraphs are just a short primer on the classics.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – Belgium
This race covers 200 kilometres of racing and features 11 climbs along the route. The race can often be affected by the driving rain, fierce wind and maybe even snow.
Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne – Belgium
This event typically tends to favor the sprinters but you never can count out a great breakaway. Starting in Kuurne, the race heads east deep into Flanders countryside. This race like many of the Spring Classic cycling events is an early test of a riders strength and fitness.
Milan-San Remo – Italy
The first really big event of the season is also the longest with the total distance of often stretching out over 300km. And if the distance isn’t tough enough there has been snow, sleet and rain always in the forecast as the weather conditions have ensured Milan-San Remo remains one of the hardest one-day races on the calendar.
Traditionally starting in the Piazza del Duomo with the first half of the race taking the peloton through Lombardy and Piedmont en route to the first climb of the day, the Passo del Turchino. From the climb, the peloton runs along the Ligurian Coast where the famous climbs of Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta, the Cipressa and the all important Poggio await before the Via Roma finale in San Remo.
Gent – Wevelgem – Belgium
Gent – Wevelgem favors the sprinters but only the strongest will survive the day.
The 2015 edition of the race was thought to be one of the greatest days of racing in the season as wind wrecked havoc, throwing riders from their bikes onto the ground and into canals. Maybe they should use heavier bikes on this day, just a thought.
Tour of Flanders – Belgium
The Tour of Flanders holds a special place in the hearts of the Flemish but this race isn’t just for the Belgians. First held in 1913, the 2016 edition of the race is a special occasion with De Ronde turning 100.
The punishing route takes in some of Flanders’ most iconic short cobbled climbs, which, packed into the back half of the race, all but guarantees that only the strongest – and those who make and respond to the right moves – emerge at the finish with a chance at winning.
Paris-Roubaix – France
The famed “Queen of the Classics” and “Hell of the North” is an annual favorite of mine. The cobbled sections of Paris-Roubaix make the race beyond difficult with names such as Trouée d’Arenberg, Mons-en-Pévèle and Carrefour de l’Arbre. Varying in length and difficulty the cobbled roads were initially used out of necessity – there were no other roads the race could use.
Where the Tour of Flanders is often a test of the strongest rider in the race, Paris-Roubaix can be a free-for-all by comparison with mechanicals ending the dreams of hundreds of the cyclists over the years. The unpredictability of the race is also a further draw for spectators who line the roadside for the final cobbled classic of the spring.
Amstel Gold Race – Holland
This young race has a character all of its own with twisty and narrow roads, short and steep climbs, and Dutch, orange-clad fans. The relatively new Classic – it was first run in 1966 – starts in Maastricht and ends with three circuits on the Cauberg.
La Flèche Wallonne – Belgium
Belgium’s La Flèche Wallonne is a comparatively short race of 200 kilometers, that always ends with spectacular explosions on the famed Mur de Huy.
The climb is a 1,300-metre, gruesome ascent that averages 9.3 per cent gradient and boasts a maximum of 25 per cent. Mur, means wall, and it is.
Riders need to be in the front 15 for the Mur de Huy if they want to stay in contention. Whoever wants to win needs to wait to the last three-hundred meters to power over the top. A well-timed kick will produce a victory, but an early move will mean you’re sucking wind on the fan-lined Mur.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège – Belgium
Liège-Bastogne-Liège is the final Ardennes race and the final Spring Classic of the season. Also known as La Doyenne and dating back to 1892 the race packs numerous côtes on the out-and-back run from Liège.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a true test of stamina and tactical smarts, and winning here would be a highlight of any cyclist’s career.