British Cycling's guide to the spring classics

British Cycling's guide to the spring classics

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Cobbles, mud and fanatical Belgians – it can only mean one thing – the start of the spring classics.

With the opening salvos fired, it was Germany's John Dagenkolb who claimed the first Monument at Milan San Remo.

That came in the wake of Ian Stannard's victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, followed by Mark Cavendish winning Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, while Lizzie Armitstead placed second at Strade Bianche.

Sir Bradley Wiggins' classics campaign has the ultimate aim of winning Paris-Roubaix on April 12 in sight, before leaving Team Sky to attempt the hour record in June.

He is expected to return to competition on Saturday's E3 Harelbeke on Friday 27 March, followed by Sunday's Gent-Wevelgem.

What are the spring classics?

The spring classics are seven one-day road races held between March and April in Europe.

Traditionally beginning with Milan-San Remo and concluding with Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the classics are preceded by warm-up events known as semi-classics.

Each event has its own prestige and character, from the flat and fast parcours of Paris-Roubaix, to the hellingen of Flanders and the longest professional one day race of Milan-San Remo.

Usually defined by bad weather, use of minor roads and cobbled secteurs, which can degrade to resemble farm tracks, the classics are known as races for the hard men of the peloton, testing physical, mental and mechanical resilience.

The character of the most famous classic, Paris-Roubaix, was captured in 1976 for the infamous documentary A Sunday In Hell, which is essential viewing.

British riders at Dwars door Vlaanderen – Wednesday, 25 March

Adam Blythe (Orica GreenEDGE)
Russ Downing (Cult Energy Pro Cycling)

2015 Spring Classics calendar

February
28 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

March
1 Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
7 Strade Bianche
8 Tielt-Winge
9 Roma Maxima
22 Milan-San Remo                        
25 Dwars door Vlaanderen
27 E3 Harelbeke
29 Gent-Wevelgem

April
5 Tour of Flanders                                           
8 Scheldeprijs
12 Paris-Roubaix                                                                              
15 Brabantse Pijl
19 Amstel Gold
22 Fleche Wallone
26 Liege – Bastogne – Liege