Spring is here, and if you hear spring you say The Classics. The classics are cycling’s biggest one-day races, and for the most part, take place in Northern Europe in the spring. Known by many names – the Spring Classics, the Cobbled Classics, the Northern Classics, or simply the Classics – for many fans and riders alike these races are the best time of the year, in cycling and in life. After a disastrous 2020, a year like no other, we can only hope that the 2021 Spring Classics will take place as planned.
The Spring Classics are often more entertaining than any given day of a Grand Tour or other stage race as big teams can’t kill off the excitement or viewing pleasure with metronomic control and nor can those with ambitions for the win sit back, limit their losses and make up for it the following day. As these are one-day races and are all or nothing and are all the better for it.
We’ve seen the big three shine already in other races, but Van Aert, Alaphilippe and van der Poel will be looking out for one of the monuments.
Milan-San Remo is the first Monument of the year and is most noted for its length as the Parcours covers almost 300km. Some short, sharp climbs towards the end such as ascents of the Cipressa and Poggio, but still carried the nickname ‘The Sprinters’ Classic’.
The Tour of Flanders takes riders over the cobbles and bergs of Belgium’s Flemish north. One for the all-out Classics specialists, De Ronde is a huge draw for fans wanting to see the best riders giving it their all on the small climbs on their way to the finish line.
Paris-Roubaix, rightly named the Queen of the Classics and referred to by many as the Hell of the North, is a truly grueling day out for the riders but an incredible spectacle for fans – both on the side of the road or watching at home on the television.
There are three Ardennes Classics, although one of them is actually in the Dutch Limburg region. The Dutch event comes first in the shape of the Amstel Gold Race, followed by La Fleche Wallonne and the 4th monument Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Last but not least there is Il Lombardia, the only one not in spring.
The five greatest one-day – classic – cycling events on the planet are known as the Monuments of Cycling. These races—Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and the Tour of Lombardy—carry the distinction of being called the Monuments. They are so named because they began prior to World War I.
Overview of the monuments:
Mar 20 Milano-Sanremo (Italy)
Apr 4 Ronde van Vlaanderen – Tour de Flandres (Belgium)
Apr 11 Paris-Roubaix (France)
Apr 25 Liège-Bastogne-Liège (Belgium)
Oct 9 Il Lombardia (Italy)