Cobbles, mud and fanatical Belgians – it can only mean one thing – the start of the spring classics.
Sir Bradley Wiggins will line up at Saturday’s season starter; Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and is joined by Brits Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe and Andy Fenn for Team Sky.
Wiggins begins his classics campaign with the ultimate aim of winning Paris-Roubaix on April 12, before leaving Team Sky to attempt the hour record in June.
Stannard won the 2014 edition of Het Nieuwsblad and showed good form at the recent Tour of Qatar, finishing fourth on his return from injury.
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 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – Saturday, 28 February
Ian Stannard (Team Sky)
Luke Rowe (Team Sky)
Andy Fenn (Team Sky)
Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)
Scott Thwaites (Bora-Argon 18)
Dan McLay (Bretagne-Seche Environnement)
Russ Downing (Cult Energy Pro Cycling)
2015 Spring Classics calendar
28 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
7 Strade Bianche
9 Roma Maxima
22 Milan-San Remo
25 Dwars door Vlaanderen
27 E3 Harelbeke
5 Tour of Flanders
15 Brabantse Pijl
19 Amstel Gold
22 Fleche Wallone
26 Liege – Bastogne – Liege