The Tour de France is nice and all but if you’re a bike racer, or a bike racing fan, April is the best month of the year. It’s a month of wall to wall one-day classics and the first two, Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris Roubaix are the two toughest days of any bike racer’s life–at least those who are fortunate (matter of opinion) enough to be selected.
Both races are over 250k and feature many miles of riding on cobblestones. In Flanders (Vlaanderen) you ride the stones on a narrow, twisting, and very hilly course that rarely allows the comfort of a draft in the peloton. In Roubaix, the cobbles are worse and there are even more of them–nearly 100k in total. Both races are absolutely brutal and given affectionately-sadistic nicknames such as The Hell of the North.
i was lucky enough to ride some of these roads a couple of years back.
This year is shaping up to be perfect—-at least if it rains because bad conditons are synonymous with the greatest spring classics. The two guys who’ve dominated the race over the last few years are both on excellent form, each having won a different semi-classic last weekend, as are a group of up and coming young talents all vying to take their place.
double winner (both flanders and roubaix)fabian cancellara absolutely dominating the field last weekend. last year he was accused of putting an engine in his bike frame. looks like it’s still there.
Video Rai.TV – Rai Sport – Gand – Wevelgem, volata di Boonen
multiple times roubaix/flanders winner tom boonen showing he’s still got it by outsprinting the youth last weekend at gent-wevelgem
For you nationalists, be sure and watch US rider Tyler Farrar of Garmin, who promises to be America’s first ever one-day classics star. He’s still a bit young but won the field sprint for fifth last year and it’s his favorite race.
“Even the Champs-Elysées doesn’t tempt him as much as the racing on the narrow streets in Flanders. “I already won stages in the Giro and in the Vuelta and I still miss one in July. I do have the ambition, but my favorite race stays the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Not only because of the parcours, but also because of the people, the enthusiasm, which is not comparable to anything else.”
And don’t forget Big George Hincapie, who’s had Roubaix snatched from right under his nose many times. He’s on the south side of his career but his form is peaking at just the right time. To count him out would be a mistake.
You’ll be able to see them unfold live here on Cyclingfans.com and, I’m sure, Versus will be carrying them too. Just make sure to get up early!