Cycling UK » classics Cycling info - advice and tips Tue, 17 Dec 2013 18:15:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Milan San Remo 2008 Mon, 24 Mar 2008 19:40:29 +0000 The winner of Milan San Remo 2008 was Fabian Cancellara of the CSC team. In recent years, Milan San Remo has often come down to a bunch sprint, but with 2KM to go Cancellara was able to take advantage of his raw power and time trial strength to break away on the finishing straight and leave the sprinters in his wake. Fillipo Pozzato and Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert came in a few seconds behind.

The 7 hour race had plenty of incidents and attacks with an extra climb 94 km from the finish the peloton split leaving many sprinters behind.

Fabian Cancellara, who won 2006 Paris Roubaix said of his attack:

“My attack was instinctive. I’d dreamed about making a late move but you can’t decide things like that before the race. I was a favourite and everybody knew that I was going to do something but nobody knew exactly what.”

Forthcoming spring classics include the Tour of Flanders, April 6th and Paris Roubaix. On current form Cancellara offers a good chance for adding to his classic victories.

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Het Volk – Cycle Race Wed, 20 Feb 2008 08:17:02 +0000 s a Belgian semi classic race, with a rich tradition. Although it has suffered by not being added to the ProTour calendar, it is very important as the symbolic herald of the European racing season.

Officially called Omloop Het Volk, Het Volk began in 1945 and has been sponsored by the Belgian newspaper, Het Volk of the same name.

Het Volk is run through the passionate cycling region of East Flanders. The race brings out a large crowd of spectators watching the race pass over tough terrain of cobbles and short hills. As the race is usually held on the last Saturday of February it is often characterised by bad weather, rain and even snow to make the pave sections slippery and dangerous.

As the race is particularly important for Belgians it is no surprise that the winner list has tended to be dominated by local riders; it was 15 years before a non Belgian rider won the race. However, in the past few decades there have been many dutch, French and German winners. Some of the most famous cyclists to have won the classic event include: Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck, Freddy Maertens and Johan Museeuw. Dutchman Jan Raas, Peter Van Petegem, Johan Museeuw

The Route of Het Volk

Het Volk is run over a 200km route, starting and finishing in Ghent. The course has 10 significant climbs or ‘bergs’ with the toughest being the Eikenberg and Molenberg. However, the last climb of the race, the Molenberg, comes with over 60km from the finish so the hills are often not the deciding factor, but just help to split the peloton down to a smaller leading group.

the 2007 race was won by the Italian Fillipo Pozzatto.

In the 2008 race, Tom Boonen’s Quick Step team are likely to start as favourites

Related Belgian Classics

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Tour of Flanders – ‘De Ronde’ Tue, 01 Jan 2008 16:27:41 +0000 The Tour of Flanders or ‘The Ronde’ as it is known in Belgium is the most prestigious one day classic in Belgium. It is particularly important for the Flemish speaking population, who are proud of their separate identity, language and culture.

Route of the Tour of Flanders

The Race starts in the medieval town of Bruges before turning towards the coast, passing through towns such as Wenduine and Ostend. The race then heads inwards towards the Flemish Ardennes a series of sharp and biting hills.

Old Kwaremont Climb

A significant part of the race is on the hill called, Old Kwaremont. It is a long, narrow and windswept cobbled climb which takes the race to a tiny hamlet, usually packed out on race day.

Koppenberg Climb

The Koppenberg is a notorious one in four, 25% climb – 400 metres of a cobbled climb. It was first used in 1976 and achieved legendary status as the great Eddy Merckx was forced to walk up the climb. It was abandoned as unsafe in 1987, when the Dane, Jesper Skibby, fell off narrowly avoiding being run over by a car. However, in the late 1990s the climb was resurfaced and thus was able to be reinstated into the route.

The Muur

photo from: National Archive no known copyright restrictions

Jaap Kersten cycling uphill on the cobbles of the Muur de Gramont (Geraardsbergen) 23 june 1961.
The Kapelmuur or ‘Wall’ is another feared climb, which often proves decisive during the race. Starting from the village of Grammont, the Wall is another 25% climb, winding its way to a chapel at the top of the climb. On race day the wall is packed with spectators hoping to see the decisive move of the day.

The Muur is quite close to the finish which is currently in Meerbeke.

Eddy Merckx and the Tour of Flanders

One of the great editions of the Tour of Flanders came in 1969. Eddy Merckx had never managed to win the race and the Flemish press had questioned Merckx’s ability. The 1969 race was run under terrible conditions of wind and rain, but, within the first two hours Merckx attacked, splitting the field. Then, 40 miles from the finish, Merckx simply rode away from the leading pack of favourites – no one could hold his wheel. His manager, Guillaume Driessens drove upto him and asked if he had gone mad to attack alone – so far from the finish. Typically, Merckx replied by saying

‘I told him where to go, kept going and won’

The runner up was Felice Gimondi, he finished five minutes behind the ‘Cannibal’

History of the Tour of Flanders

The Tour of Flanders was first run in 1913. After the 1914 edition, the race was abandoned until 1919 when the first world war had finished. In the inter war period the race was largely a national race, being dominated by Belgians. The race was run on the same day as Milan San Remo. However, in 1948 Cycling initiated a World Cup Style of classic races. This helped to establish the Tour of Flanders as one of the key early season classics. It is now one of the top 5 classic one day races.

Pro cycling Photos

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Paris – Roubaix – The Queen of the Classics Fri, 14 Dec 2007 02:39:27 +0000

“cycling’s last folly” – Jacques Goddet former organiser of Paris Roubaix

Paris Roubaix is cycling’s most prestigious classic, with a rich history of great victories and painful defeats. It is probably the most grueling race in the pro cycling calendar and for this reason is venerated as the ‘Queen of the classics’

History of Paris Roubaix

Paris Roubaix was first run in 1896 when most of the roads from Paris to Roubaix were unkempt and cobbled. The inspiration for the race came from two industrialists Théo Vienne and Maurice Perez, who wished to publicise the new cycling track they had built in Roubaix. At the time Roubaix was at its height of industrial power; Vienne and Perez built the track with their profits. They hoped that Paris Roubaix would match other famous races like Bordeaux Paris and Paris – Brest Paris.

The first race was run on Easter Sunday, and this encountered opposition from the local clergy who opposed racing on Sunday. But, a compromise was reached with a special mass for cyclists; the race started and in the first year was won by Josef Fischer a German – in a time of over 9 hours 17 minutes.

Traditionally, the race is held every April and is often referred to as “La Pascale” because of its Easter roots.

The route of Paris Roubaix used to simply follow the main road from Paris to Lille. But, over the twentieth century, improvements to the road surfaces meant that the race was beginning to lose its characteristic cobbles or ‘pave’ in French. Therefore, there have been frequent revisions to the route, with the organisers sending the race zig zagging through the various sections of cobbles that remain. Because of this the start was moved 40 miles to the north of Paris to Compiegne.

The race also passes through many former battlefield sites. The first few editions after the first world war were particularly evocative – for the ‘hell of the north’ was matched by the ‘hell of the countryside’ with its many reminders of the former conflict, such as trenches, shell holes and a devastated landscape.

Route of Paris Roubaix

The key point in the races are the pave sections, especially the extended part through the Foret de Wallers Arneberg and the Carrefour de L’Arbe. The carrefour is the last and longest section of 4km and also runs slightly uphill.

There is often fierce competition amongst the riders to be in the leading 20 or so riders before the race hits the pave section. Crashes are frequent and riding at the back of the bunch means you can easily lose contact with the leaders, making it almost impossible to regain contact.

Why is Paris Roubaix Held in such High Regard?

“There are just three races in the season. Paris Roubaix, the Tour de France and the World Championship.” – Greg Le Mond.

  • Difficult conditions. Snow, rain can make the cobbles treacherous, making the pave like a skating rink.
  • Frequent crashes
  • Hardmen of the Peleton. In recent years Paris Roubaix has favoured the older more experienced riders in the peloton. It is rarely a race that can be won by a promising newcomer. To do well in Paris Roubaix requires great stamina, perseverance, skill and endurance (and a bit of luck)
  • A throwback to cycling’s past. Riding on the pave and finishing on the velodrome in Roubaix evokes many memories of the early cycling races. It has tried to stick to its routes whilst many other races have evolved onto better roads.
  • Great Champions. Although Tour de France favourites no longer ride Paris Roubaix. Many great champions of the past have won at Paris Roubaix. – Eddy Merckx, Bernaud Hinault (who admitted he loathed the race) Fausto Coppi, Johan Museeuw, Rick van Looy, Francesco Moser, Sean Kelly.

Bikes for Paris Roubaix

Because of the difficult nature of riding on the cobbles. (Some riders compare it to riding with a pneumatic drill- tenditis is a common ailment after the race) Riders have sought to make adjustments to their bikes to deal with the terrain. These adjustments include:

  • Extra tape on handlebars.
  • Extra thick cycling shorts
  • Cyclo Cross style brakes to avoid getting clogged with mud
  • Front Fork suspension.
  • Fatter tyres with slightly less air in than usual.

Whatever happens Paris Roubaix is also a nightmare for mechanics who have to completely strip a bike and degrease it after a race

Strange Incidents in Paris Roubaix

1949. – The leading 3 cyclists were sent the wrong way by a judge who was directing cars away from the velodrome. To get onto the track 2 cyclists ended up coming through a press box to get onto the track. The Sprint was won by Andre Mahe. The chasing group tried to protest that Mahe had taken the wrong route, but, their protest was not taken up.

Film of Paris Roubaix

In 1976 the race was videod and made into a film – Sunday in Hell. The film took close up shots of the cyclists and cobbles; it tried to offer an artistic interpretation for the suffering that the cyclists had to go through. The 1976 race featured Eddy Merckx, Joop Zoetemelk

Great Champions of Paris Roubaix

Roger de Vlaeminck
One of the great champions of Paris Roubaix was Roger de Vlaeminck. Nicknamed the ‘gypsy’ Roger was one of the toughest cyclists. He was adept at bike handling, having been a great cyclo cross champion. He was dominate throughout the period 1969 and 1982, where he missed only 1 race, winning 4 times and coming second four times.

  • Rik Van Looy, 3 times
  • Octave Lapize 3 times
  • Francesco Moser 3 times

Picture of Sean Kelly, Paris – Roubaix San Diego Bicycle club


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Liege Bastogne Liege: Cycling Classic Sun, 09 Dec 2007 21:34:29 +0000

Liege Bastogne Liege is one of Cycling’s monuments – the big 5 classic races.

It has been run since 1892 and is set in the Ardennes (Wallonia), the French speaking region of Belgium. The region of Wallonia is not traditionally Belgium’s most fanatical cycling base. But, at the turn of the century Wallonia was more economically prosperous and it was in Wallonia that cycling racing first took off in Belgiums.

Liege Bastogne Liege is known as ‘La Doyenne’ of cycling races. Literally this means ‘old lady’, practically it refers to the rich history and tradition embedded in the race.

In 1990 the organisation of Liege Bastogne Liege was taken over by the Tour de France society; this was in response to poor organisation which resulted in a big pile up in 1988.

The sister race of Liege Bastogne Liege is Fleche Wallonia. This is now held on the Wednesday preceding, offering the chance for riders to complete the ‘Ardennes double’.

Winning the ‘Ardennes double’ is a rare achievement. Past double winners include:

  • Eddy Merckx 1972
  • Ferdi Kubler 1951 1952
  • Stan Ockers 1955
  • Recently, David Rebellin achieved this feat in 2004.

Great Victories in Liege Bastogne Liege

  • 1971 Eddy Merckx. This was Eddy Merckx’s second victory. He broke away on the ‘Wall’ at Stavelot and gained over 4 minutes. However, approaching Fleche, Merckx tired and a single pusuiant – George Pintens caught him. Usually when a cyclist loses 4 minutes to a chaser he has no chance of winning. But, Merckx hung on desperately and in the final sprint in the velodrome managed to pit Pintens to take the victory. Merckx went on to win 3 in a row, 1971, 1972, 1973. Before coming back in 1975 to make it a record breaking 5 victories in Liege Bastogne Liege.
  • 1980 Bernard Hinault. The race was run in blizzard conditions. The conditions were so bad that over 100 riders had given up after the first 40 miles. Hinault was tempted to also throw in the towel but was encouraged to keep going by a team mate, Cyrille Guimard. Hinault rode hard ‘just to keep warm’ and ended up soloing the last 50 miles to win by over 9 minutes. It is said Hinault took 3 weeks to get proper movement back into his fingers, – so cold had they become.

Route of Liege Bastogne Liege

The Course of Liege Bastogne Liege. Is based on a 95KM route from Liege to Bastogne, before returning to Liege on a longer 163Km return leg. The return leg features many difficult climbs which give the race its distinctive character. These hills include:

  • Côte de la Roche-en-Ardenne (2.9KM)
  • Côte de Stockeu (1.1Km – 11 degrees)
  • Côte du Rosier (3.9Km
  • Côte de la Redoute 2.3Km

The traditional finish was on the banks of the river Meuse. But, in 1992, this was abandoned for a hill top finish at Ans – this helps to keep the race open to non sprinters

The last 2 major climbs before the finish include:

  • Côte du Sart-Tilman-Tilff 3.7km
  • Côte de Saint-Nicolas (0.9km 11degrees) One of the most popular climbs coming near the finish. The top of the hill rises to a gradient of 1 in 5 (20 degrees)

The total level of climbing in Liege Bastogne Liege is estimated to be about 3,600 metres; this is equivalent to a medium stage in the Tour de France. It is a race that tends to favour a good all rounder.

Recent Winners of Liege Bastogne Liege

  • 1995     Mauro Gianetti
  • 1996     Pascal Richard
  • 1997     Michele Bartoli
  • 1998     Michele Bartoli
  • 1999     Frank Vandenbroucke
  • 2000     Paolo Bettini
  • 2001     Oscar Camenzind
  • 2002     Paolo Bettini
  • 2003     Tyler Hamilton
  • 2004     Davide Rebellin     Gerolsteiner
  • 2005     Alexandre Vinokourov T-Mobile Team
  • 2006     Alejandro Valverde         Caisse d’Epargne-Illes Balears
  • 2007     Danilo Di Luca

Liege Bastogne Liege links

picture from 2006 edition of race at  le

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Giro Di Lombardia: Cycling Classic Thu, 06 Dec 2007 21:26:48 +0000 The Giro Di Lombardia is better known as ‘The Race of the Falling Leaves’ It marks the close of the professional cycling season and comes one week after the World Championships. Originally run in 1905, it is not Italy’s oldest race (that privilege goes to Milan-Turin) however, along with Milan San Remo, the Giro di Lombardia is Italy’s most prestigious one day classic.

Route of the Giro di Lombardia

The start is in Varese on the Northern border of Italy, near Switzerland. It then passes through the town of Como (which was the finish between 1961 and 1984).
The race then passes the shore of Lake Lecco before climbing the Passo Intelvi. This is the high point of the race reaching a height of 760m.

Maddona del Ghisallo

This is a climb on the the shores of Lake Lecco. It includes a shrine to cyclists, blessed by the pope in 1949. It includes cycling memorabilia and photos of cyclists killed on Italian roads. It is a place of pilgrimage for the tifosi (Italian cycling fans)

After descending the Passo Intelve the race passes through Bergamo. Before finishing the race loops round three climbs; Colle Gallo, Selvino and Colle Berbenno. The race then finishes in Bergamo, after crossing a tough cobbles climb to “Citta Alta”, giving a final chance for a climber to get away.

Fausto Coppi and Giro di Lombardia

The greatest champion of Giro di Lombardia was probably Fausto Coppi. Coppi dominated the race between 1946 and 1949; he won with total domination, leaving the field far behind. In 1956, Coppi finished second to Andre Darrigade, but, afterwards he struggled to maintain his standing amongst other cyclists.

Modern Winners of the Giro di Lombardia

Sean Kelly was another cyclist able to dominate the Giro di Lombardy, beginning in 1983, he won the race a total of 3 times.

  • Tony Rominger 1989, 1992
  • Eddy Merckx 1971, 1972
  • Bernaud Hinault 1979 1984

Winners of Giro Di Lombardia since 2000

2000    Raimondas Rumšas   –   Fassa Bortolo
2001     Danilo Di Luca     – Aqua & Sapone
2002     Michele Bartoli     – Fassa Bortolo
2003     Michele Bartoli    – Fassa Bortolo
2004     Damiano Cunego     – Saeco
2005     Paolo Bettini     – Quick Step
2006     Paolo Bettini     – Quick Step-Innergetic
2007     Damiano Cunego – Lampre


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Milan San Remo: Cycling Race Wed, 05 Dec 2007 15:58:22 +0000

Milan San Remo has become one of Italy’s most prestigious one day classics. Originally run in 1907, Milan San Remo or La Primavera’ retains almost the same route today as it did at the turn of the last century.

Beginning in the industrial town of Milan, the race crosses the Lombardy plains before travelling over the Apennines to the summit of Bric Berton. There is then a hair raising descent into the outskirts of Genoa before travelling along the coast of the Ligurian Sea. Prominent locations include Savona, Capi (which has 3 short hills – a preparation for the decisive hills to come.

The real race hots up as it approaches Cipressa. Cipressa has a steep and narrow hairpinned hill, which usually sees the bunch split for the first time. There is a fierce battle for places in the lead upto the hill.

Poggia di San Remo.

Just before the outskirts of San Remo, comes the hill of Poggio. It can be the decisive place for a break to form. Former double winner Sean Kelly says. “Everyone gets so nervous, because they know that if you have 100 metres lead at the top of the poggio you’ll win. But, just as decisive is the short hair pinned descent which comes after. For example, in 1992, Moreno Argentin led Sean Kelly over the top of the Poggio but, taking risks on the descent Sean Kelly, (then 36 years old) was able to catch up with Argentin and outsprint him at the last.

Sprinters of Milan San Remo

However, the Poggia is not always the decisive place. Quite often, the race is only decided on the final run and sprint in to the town of San Remo. Great sprint winners of Milan San Remo include:

  • Erik Zabel 1997, 1998, 2001
  • Mario Cipollini 2002
  • Sean Kelly,

Great Champions of Milan San Remo

Milan San Remo has been won by some of the greatest names in professional cycling.
Before the war, the race was dominated by Constante Girardengo – He won Milan San remo 6 times. At the peak of his fame, he was said to be more popular than Mussolini.
Announcing his entrance into the top echelons of pro cycling, Eddy Merckx won the race in 1966. He went on to win the race a total of 7 times.

  • In 1946, Fausto Coppi won Milan San Remo by a record 14 minutes.

External Links

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