These iconic and significant events are called the Spring Classics, the cobbled Classics, the northern Classics or just the Classics. They begin from February with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, Milan-San Remo, Gent Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix, and between, a few less well-known.
Following these are the Amstel Gold, La Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, known as the Ardenne Classics, each with its special and unique character and atmosphere. Some of these prestigious events are also called monuments, of which there are five: Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and the Tour of Lombardy and each holds the badge of distinction for the grand title of a monument.
The legendary monument Classics has rich historical pasts and countless stories to tell. They are deeply enshrined in history and heritage, returning to their roots in the late 19th century and early 20th century.
These iconic events and their dates of origin:
- Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) - 1913 - Belgium
- Liege Bastogne Liege - 1892 - Belgium
- Milan San Remo - 1907 - Italy
- Paris Roubaix - 1896 - France
- Tour of Lombardy - 1892 ( event is in Autumn and is also called Race of the Falling leaves) - Italy
Many fans the world over, as well as passionate cyclists, see these iconic races as the best time of the cycling calendar, which is at the start of a new cycling season from around February until the end of April, laying the foundation for the exciting Grand World Tours like the Giro and the Tour de France. These one-day Classics races are an all-or-nothing attempt for victory after what is usually a hard slog over gravel, cobbles and long distances in inclement weather and overcoming all barriers, taking advantage of opportunities and following through on changing strategies at short notice.
The one-day Classics are not only about the survival of the fittest and fastest in the peloton but also about the smartest, who can think fast tactically, mitigate losses and make gains throughout these long races. For that reason, the races hold immense prestige for the riders and the opportunity to follow one's race heroes and teams fighting a bloody battle of sweat and tears against their opponents to the finish line.
You, too, can challenge yourself, get a taste of the prestigious Classics routes by riding short segments from home on your trainer and get inspired, motivated, enjoy the feeling and share in some of the experience in your own time, space and pace. During your ride remember good nutrition and after the ride, you can reward yourself as you relax, put your feet up, and watch the pros race on the same roads you have ridden virtually. You earned it!
The rolling hills of Tuscany in Strade Bianche
Strade Bianche - a traditional and Classic race over the white and dusty Tuscan hills
Although not officially a Spring Classic race, the 184 km Strade Bianche (136 km with 31 km of gravel for the women on the same day) is a newer one-day Tour race over rolling and typical hilly gravel roads through beautiful Tuscany and is now a popular Classic organised by the Giro. Earlier, in 2007, the race was held in October, inspired by the L'Eroica vintage bike event. The unique event was a throwback to the old days of racing with vintage bicycles ridden over these rough, gravel roads around the Siena countryside. The characteristic Italian Cypress trees or Pencil Conifers line the lanes providing temporary relief to the riders from the side winds. Terracotta-roofed cottages and houses dot the picturesque Tuscan landscape.
Tackling the technical, hilly and dusty gravel roads of Strade Bianche on the ROUVY app
Technical gravel riding with short and sharp climbs
Then in 2008, the race was moved to March in the early European Spring. Those same tricky gravel roads and short and sharp climbs present the battlegrounds for attacks by the pros to the line on terrain and profile, not for the faint of heart, where technical cycle-cross skills are an advantage. In the climbs, it is easy to lose traction on the back wheel while climbing out of the saddle, so seated in the saddle is the best way to get over the climbs and use a high cadence. For that reason, wider tyres of around 28cm are the tyre of choice with lower pressure for better rolling resistance. Those with the best bike-handling skills, strength, and early-season fitness will have an advantage in fitting into their race strategies.
Riding over the gravel hills in Tuscany on the Strade Bianche course on ROUVY
The nitty gritty details and victories
The most victories by a single rider since then were by Fabian Cancellara in 2008, 2012 and 2016. Champions who followed in their paths were Philippe Gilbert, Michał Kwiatkowski, Zdeněk Štybar, Tiejs Benoot, Julian Alaphilippe, Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel and Tadej Pogačar (called a Campionissimo by the famous and legendary Eddy Merckx).
The pros race over 60km of the 184km on rough gravel roads called sectors, usually in gusty conditions in the open countryside exposed to the wind. The first four sectors appear before the paved Montalcino climb, followed by several other brutal sectors. The final ascents are short but much steeper, and where the race is finally determined. You'll see more attacks unfold with a final sting in the tail and a technical 16% cobbled-stone section up Via Santa Caterina before the showdown and finish at Piazza del Campo.
Enjoy two beautiful segments from Strade Bianche in the beautiful Tuscany countryside and be inspired and motivated by these unique courses:
Experience a 37 km stretch from Buonconvento to Presciano and a scenic 35 km segment from Torrenieri to Montalcino.
Paris - Roubaix, the classic untamed cobbles and the fight for survival, overcoming all odds on the road to victory
Imagine riding a road bike over these ancient bone-rattling stones on the Paris Roubaix course
Paris-Roubaix, or Hell of the North and also known as Queen of the Classics, is the third monument of the cycling Spring Classics season and is one of the most legendary, taking place in early April. There is a men’s (257 km) and a women’s field (146 km from Denain to Roubaix). Starting in Compiène, north of Paris, the men follow the 257 km course with numerous pavé or cobblestone sections or 'sectors' varying in difficulty and length, making their way to Roubaix in the north of France, near the border of Belgium.
The famous rough cobbled paving of the Paris Roubaix course on ROUVY
The first 100 km are normal paved roads, followed by the first of the many cobbled sectors with their five-star rankings that open up to the riders with 55 km of notorious bone and teeth-rattling cobblestone and narrow roads. The winner has a mind-boggling speed of 45 km/hour over this brutal terrain. Fortunately, on your trainer you won’t feel this!
The race runs in a mix of organised chaos and drama: punctures, broken wheels, snapped saddles and seat posts, bicycles snapping in half, riders getting thrown off their bikes by spectators in the way, cobbles coming loose out the ground, riders bunny-hopping their bikes over and around ruts and ditches, riders running instead of cycling, riders missing corners, getting stuck, taking each other down in mass pile-ups causing jammed roads - pure chaos that is known as the Sunday in Hell for the riders but guaranteed entertainment for the crowds.
The race ends with a one-and-a-half lapped circuit around the Velodrome André Pétrieux, which makes for an edge-of-your-seat moment if there is a sprint finish.
The cobbles in the open and exposed French countryside in the Paris Roubaix Hell of the North on ROUVY
Winners gracing the Paris Roubaix victory list
Belgians have dominated the race, taking the most accolades with over 50 titles including Roger De Vlaeminck dominating the 1970s and between 2005 and 2012 Tom Boonen collected the winning trophies. Further back in time, Eddy Merckx and Sean Kelly, Johan Musseeuw and Fausto Coppi owned the legendary victories. Out of these icons, De Vlaeminck and Boonen were the only riders to raise the heavy cobblestone trophy four times each.
Enjoy a segment on ROUVY through small French villages in the Paris Roubaix route
Ride a segment on ROUVY through rural countryside in the Paris Roubaix route
Read about and experience other famous and iconic segments of Spring Classics
The Tour of Flanders - true tenacity of cobbled climbs
If you thought the Paris Roubaix was challenging for the pros, look at the cobbled climbs for the pros in the Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen, or just De Ronde) in early April every year is undoubtedly cycling's best monument. It is a very long race of 260 km, combining brutality with tactical moves over a long distance. The race's decisive moment is usually a tactical move on the Oude Kwaremont or the Paterberg that separates the best from the best and the cleverest tactical rider. Read more and get some interesting insights into this special day of racing in Flanders, Belgium, a Spring Classic and a Monument. Ride the route and push yourself to the limits when you feel good. When the last short climb appears, don't stop. Keep going until over the summit, and then enjoy the sweet descent!
The oldest Monument - The Ardenne Classic, Liege-Bastogne-Liege
Liège–Bastogne–Liège, also known as La Doyenne or "The Old Lady," is a one-day classic cycling race held in the Wallonie, French-speaking region of Belgium. First held in 1892, it is the oldest of the five Monuments of the European pro road cycling calendar. It is usually the last of the spring classics in the Ardennes region in late April. The route is from Liège to Bastogne and back to Liege over 260 km. On ROUVY, you can ride a famous segment from Francorchamps to Sprimont. Ride two iconic sections from the course that the pros battle it out on, challenge yourself, and watch out for the famous Eddy Merckx monument positioned at the top of the second climb of this 26 km hilly route.
A famous cobbled climb called The Muur to the chapel at the summit is the focal point on a prestigious and renowned route in Geraardsbergen in Flanders which appears in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in late February, a legendary Spring Classic dating back to 1945. This event's winners in history were the legendary figures of Eddy Merckx, Freddy Maertens and Johan Musseeuw. The course has short and sharp climbs or 'bergs' and cobbles, and you can ride it virtually on ROUVY and enjoy these unique locations.
The Amstel Gold Race (280km) is the only World Tour one-day race held in Limburg in the Netherlands and the most important Dutch road race. Starting in Limburg, you can ride a 27 km section of it through the Dutch countryside.
Kickstart the new season with the joy of a Spring Classics ride. Take some time for yourself: some therapy on the bike and clear your mind while you focus on the routes of these incredible and famous one-day Spring Classics and think of the triumph, grit and history sealed into the stones and the gravel.