Get to know your Monuments and Classics

Following Tibout Pinot’s incredible Il Lombardia victory, many cycling fans have had the 2nd of March circled in their diaries as the day the season officially begins again.

For many Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is the day the race season finally begins anew. This race signals the start of the ever exciting series of one day races known as the spring classics. Following Il Lombardia 5 months ago, cycling fans have had little to keep them glued to their screens. Yes there has been a few week-long stage races such as the tour down under, but none of those races bring to mind such great images like the spring classics do. Every classics race is steeped in history, just put the name of any of the races into a search engine and you will have memories of all kinds from rides and spectators alike.

From the beginning of March until the end of April, cycling fans are treated to some of the most exciting and grueling racing that the season can offer, spread across 13 different races. The terrain of the races tests every rider’s ability, not only their strength and stamina, but also their bike handling and their ability to read the race. The rider who wins needs these qualities, plus a large amount of luck. A crash or a mechanical at any point of the race can ruin a riders hope of victory that day. Take Tom Boonen’s final race of his career, perfect positioning and tactics and looking very strong on the day but a dropped chain at the most inopportune time meant he would never see the front of the race again.

The biggest attraction to the classics, is the aggressive racing that is often on show. Races can and will be won or lost in one day, whereas, with the grand tours and other stage races, they are longer more drawn out affairs. The larger teams have less of an opportunity to slow down and control the race for long periods. With one day races, attacking moves can be expected from start to end, all culminating in one last battle between the final few survivors of a once large peloton.

The Spring classics draw to a close with Liege-Baston-Liege, which was first run over 120 years ago in 1892. Liege-Baston-Liege, along with Paris-Roubaix, the Tour of Flanders and Milan-San Remo all stand out above the rest of the classics races. These 4 races are the oldest on the classics list, as well as the longest races, making them some of the most challenging races that the riders will face during the entire race season. The added length of these races has the ability to whittle down the field even more than the other classics, meaning that towards the back-end of the race, only the best of the best are left.

One race does stand above all; “The Hell of The North”, or Paris-Roubaix, as it is less menacingly known. Not only is it a test of the riders mettle, but also a test of the bikes and the components used during the race. Choosing the right bike, choosing the right wheels. It all matters. When planning for the race there are many different factors for riders to take into account, the 29 different sectors of pavé play such a role in determining who wins and who doesn’t. Each sector of bone-jarring pavé only lasts a handful of kilometres, but it must feel like a lifetime when riding across them.

This year’s Classics season is expected to be as enthralling as ever and we’ll be sad to see the back on it, but as ever the racing never ends… Roll on the Grand Tours!

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