Your Guide To The Spring Classics
It’s that time of year in the bike racing world. The Spring Classics are here. The opening weekend of March (and this year, end of the Snowiest February ever for Boulder) signaled the professional bike racing season has started. These are races that have been around nearly as long as the derailleur. These springtime races spread throughout Europe are usually single day races tackling some of most beautiful countryside, the quaintest little European villages, and the most brutal cobbled roads to be found.
Here are the highlights and the insights so you know what to look for and what makes it special.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad & Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne This is Pro Cycling’s Belgium kick off weekend. With a mix of cobbles, questionable weather, & crazy fans these races set the tone for the next two months. With each stage over 110 miles the rider to take the top step of the podium certainly earns his place in history.
Milano-Sanremo One of the true monuments of cycling. Coming in at 298km (185 miles!!) it takes true grit to make it past the 2 main climbs (the Cipressa & the Poggio) and across the finish line. No North American cyclist has ever claimed a win here in a race that first ran in 1907. The beautiful Italian Riviera awaits those who make it to the finish.
Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen) Back to the North, where the weather & the roads can crack any rider not up to the challenge. The 160-mile race in the North of Belgium is another of the monuments of cycling and marks the start of a week of incredible & historic races. Running for nearly 100 years, the Belgians certainly own their race, claiming 68 victories.
Gent–Wevelgem Sandwiched with Tour of Flanders & Paris-Roubaix, Gent-Wevelgem is the sprinters hopes at early season success. The 136-mile race, now in its 77th edition, has all the markings of a great classic with numerous cobbled climbs and notorious winds to test & tare at the peloton.
Paris-Roubaix If you know any spring classic, it’s this one. The Hell of the North, Queen of the Classics, A Sunday in Hell, this is one of the oldest races in pro cycling and actually dates back to before the invention of the derailleur. Starting in 1896, the Paris-Roubaix follows an unrelenting route from Paris to the Roubaix velodrome of over 280km (174 miles!). With 27 sections of cobbles, Paris-Roubaix is known just as much for chewing up riders as it is for chewing up bikes.
Amstel Gold Race This 50-year-old race changes the pace on the hardened classic riders. With over 30 individual climbs over 160 miles (weighted strongly to the second half of the course) riders are tested time and time again with very little chance of a bunch finish.
La Fleche Wallonne Back in the home of the classics, this southern Belgium circuit race is about as straight forward as it gets. Ending with 3 assents up the Mur de Huy, with grades of 15% and topping out at 26%, riders are pushed to the limit even though the race has not exceeded 210km in the last 25 years.
Liege-Bastogne-Liege Often called ‘La Doyenne’ (the oldest), this 160+ mile race is another true monument of the pro cycling calendar. Started in 1892, this out and back loop drags racers up and over 11 notable climbs. Even with its late April race date, winter weather can always be a factor with strong winds and snow ready to disrupt a beautiful day in the Ardennes region of Belgium.Road