This weekend, a month of the biggest one-day races in the cycling calendar begins. Legends will be made and not a few dreams dashed.
The Spring Classics of northern Europe are, for many, the highlight of the season. More than the Grand Tours, the one-day Classics show bike racing at its most exciting, passionate and pure. Each one is a test of form, determination, tenacity and luck, in which split-second decisions can make or break your career, and yet race piles on top of race almost before you can draw breath, giving each rider a fresh chance to shoot for glory and erase the mistakes of the past.
We’ve already had the hors d’oueuvres: minor Classics like Het Nieuwsblad and the Italian Monument Milano-Sanremo, as well as atrociously windblown Gent-Wevelgem (usually counted as the first of the ‘Cobbled Classics’, named because… you guessed it).
Now comes what many consider to be the main event: first, the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders – April 5) and ‘The Hell of the North’, Paris-Roubaix (April 12), round out the cobbled races. Last year, Strava Pro Niki Terpstra took the victory and posted his ride to Strava, earning a then record number of Kudos.
The Classics season then decamps to Holland for the first of the ‘Hilly Classics’: the Amstel Gold Race (April 19), which defies the stereotype of Holland being a totally flat country. Hot on its heels is the Flèche Wallonne (April 22) in the French-speaking region of southern Belgium, with its famous finishing climb, the Mur de Huy. And last but not least, comes ‘La Doyenne’, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the oldest of the Classics with its menacing forested hills.
These are some of the toughest races and some of the most highly prized. For many teams, a win in one of these will make the season, and all the best one day riders will be sure to be in peak form for Flanders onwards. The fans in northern France, Holland and Belgium in particular are without a doubt the most passionate and knowledgeable and, with big stars Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek) both already out with injuries, the door is open for new riders to forge their reputations.
Strava, along with Specialized, is inviting you to suffer alongside the peloton in the Specialized Spring Classics Challenge.
Ride 1,225 kilometres, the total combined distance of April’s five Spring Classics. You have 40 days to complete the challenge and can cover the 1,225 kilometers in as many rides as you wish. We’ll award you with milestone badges at 25%, 50% and 75% completion, and ultimately with a unique finisher’s badge. Why not set weekly goals to help you finish in time?
And don’t forget: one of the best ways to follow the races and truly appreciate what the pros are doing is to follow them on Strava. We’ve compiled a list, below, of riders to watch. Don’t forget to give them Kudos for their efforts!
Koen de Kort
Greg Van Avernaet
Guillaume Van Keirsbulck
Tom Van Asbroeck