If you grew up during the ‘Golden Age’ of 70’s bike racing and you’re a connoisseur of the Belgian semi-classics, then the lumping together on a weekend of the 54th E3-Prijs Harelbeke and 73rd Gent-Wevelgem is a bit of a worry; it smacks of ‘marketing’ to us. But we’re like the dinosaurs; we’ll be extinct soon – and we still have the kermises out in the cabbage fields.
Roadside Report: Joking with a former Paris-Roubaix winner, chatting with current stars of the sport and mixing in the VIP area with podium girls and other lucky fans - Lee Rodgers certainly had a great day out at Wednesday's Scheldeprijs. For the race end Lee was at the finishline under sunny skies sipping a cool drink and munching on free food. Could life as a bike fan get any better than this?
Roadside Stage 3: We spent a lot of time in the start village of yesterday's stage discussing what might and might not happen in the 213km run from Wanze in Belgium to Arenberg Porte Du Hainaut in France today. Today was our chance to leave the riders to it and hit the road as we crossed from Belgium to France.
Very few climbs in modern bike racing can still bring a bike racer to his knees. With the evolution of intelligent gearings, the steepest climbs have been tamed, well, as much as they can be. The Koppenberg, however, defies all technological advances and takes us back to a time when plodding upward on foot was just as common as pedaling.
Before the riders of the World Tour tackle the cobbles and bergs of Flanders on Sunday, we're going up close with two of the parcours' legendary climbs as seen through the eyes of our men on the ground. First up is Gordan who returned to the famous Kemmelberg in 2013 to face some past demons.
It was a day of historic – and epic – proportions. We’d journeyed far, across continents, oceans, and the toughest roads in Europe, to arrive at the route for Sunday’s Hell of the North – Paris-Roubaix. Me and my butt found out first hand what it’s like to ride the “pave”.
On a day better suited to the beach than standing in dust clouds amongst the mining-country of normally bleak northern France, the sun shone and blessed one and all with a summer–like day. The best place to be on a dry and dusty course was at the front – where CSC’s Stuart O’Grady spent most of his journey into the record books.
The Queen of the Classics, or Hell of the North? In this week's chapter of our ongoing Classics focus, Steve Bauer remembers Paris-Roubaix as both... "Ah yes Paris Roubaix. A definite favorite of mine with a lot of really good memories to share. I could probably write a book... yeah maybe I could in my spare time..."
The 104th edition of the most important of all the Classics runs this Sunday. No true racer would be satisfied with only a view to the upcoming race-day – no way no how! To fully appreciate the beauty that is Roubaix, one must understand how this race was born, and the battles that shaped her into the Queen she is today…
To fully appreciate the beauty and pain that is Paris-Roubaix, one must understand how this race was born, and the battles that shaped her into the Queen she is today… No true racer would be satisfied with only a view to the upcoming race-day – no way no how!
Part Two: When we left off yesterday, the dust storming field had just rolled through Sector 27 in Troisvilles. 26 more sectors lay ahead of them, and we were off to get hold of as many cobbled views as we could before a winner was crowned in the velodrome on a heavenly Sunday afternoon in Hell.
Part One: The cobbled classics often get lumped together, and for the two super cobbled classics, Flanders and Roubaix, they're rarely mentioned in separate sentences. It's a shame, because the two races can't be more different. De Ronde is justifiably known as Flanders's Most Beautiful, whilst Roubaix - her nickname is just as appropriate and perfect: the Hell of the North. We were there once again on Sunday, chasing the dust to Roubaix.
Roadside Report: After the cold and rain of Saturday's 'Flanders Classics' Het Nieuwsblad, Sunday dawned clear and sunny for a perfect day of racing action roadside in Belgium at the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
Roadside Report: Out there in the rain and cold at the Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday was our battle hardened reporter Ed Hood who wouldn't have dreamed of being anywhere else. With the hard man ingredients of cold & cobbles with perhaps the odd Belgian beer to warm him up, it was the perfect start to the Classics campaign.
Top Ride:The culmination of my visit to Holy Week was the long anticipated, much feared, and never completed ride across the parcours of Paris-Roubaix. Finally I learned what it was like to battle the toughest roads in northern France and earn my own lap of honour at the Roubaix velodrome.
Everyone remembers their first time - the foreign road signs, different shop hours, chasing about countryside like idiots - all to catch a glimpse of cycling's most feared one-day Classic. David Pearce did all that and more at Paris-Roubaix, and lucky for us - he recorded the day on his camera.
Roadside: On Sunday April 8th, I had the once again once in a lifetime experience of chasing the most feared Monument of the year – Paris-Roubaix. And just like my ride across these hellish roads a couple days prior, this day was nothing short of ‘epic’.
Classics Preview: The Tour of Flanders defines this region, and for many fans it defines the Spring Classics themselves, but the race itself would be almost nothing without its steep nasty bergs, and of course… the cobbles. Riding the Tour of Flanders Cyclosportif lets you experience it all for yourself.
It's the most important race of the year for many, the race that stops a nation and no matter whether you call it The Tour of Flanders or the Ronde van Vlaanderen it's a superb event. Win it and you become an instant star in Belgium. Win it more than twice, a legend. Let's take a look at this Sunday's big race and make some predictions of who will go in the record books this year.
‘It’s a pile of shit, this race. It’s a whole pile of shit. You race through mud like this. You haven’t the time to piss. You ride and you piss in your pants. It’s a whole pile of shit.’ ‘Will you race here again?’ ‘Of course; it’s the most beautiful race in the world!’