Classic cycle races
The classic cycle races are the most prestigious one-day professional cycling road races in the international calendar. All of these events run in western Europe, have been fixtures on the professional calendar for decades and the oldest ones date back to the 19th century. They are normally held at roughly the same time each year. The five most revered races are often described as the 'Monuments'.
For the 2005 to 2007 seasons, the Classics formed part of the UCI ProTour run by the Union Cycliste Internationale. This event series also included various stage races including the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a España, Paris–Nice and the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, and various non-Classic one-day events. The ProTour replaced the UCI Road World Cup series which contained only one-day races. Many of the Classics, and all the Grand Tours, were not part of the ProTour for the 2008 season because of disputes between the UCI and the ASO, which organizes the Tour de France and several other major races.
- 1 Problems with definition
- 2 The Classics
- 3 Season openers
- 4 Past classics
- 5 The 'Monuments'
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
Problems with definition
Although cycling fans and sports media eagerly use the term "classic", there is no clear consensus about what constitutes a classic cycling race. UCI, the international governing body of cycling, has no mention at all of the term in its rulings. This poses problems to define the characteristics of these races and makes it impossible to make precise lists. Several criteria are used to denote the importance of a cycling race: date of creation, historical importance and tradition, commercial importance, location, level of difficulty, level of competition field, etc. However, many of these paradigms tend to shift over time and are often opinions of a personal nature. One of the few objective criteria is the official categorization of races as classified by the UCI, although this is not a defining feature either, as many fans dispute the presence of some of the highest-categorized races and some older races are not included in the UCI World Tour.
Given the lack of a clear definition of classic races, these are professional races mostly regarded as classics. It includes some of the one-day events of the UCI World Tour and additional races of historical importance.
- Strade Bianche – race that includes sections of strade bianche gravel roads. Despite its relatively short history, the Strade Bianche has quickly gained prestige.
- Milan–San Remo – the first true Classic of the year, its Italian name is La Primavera ("The Spring") or La classicissima. This race is normally held on the Saturday closest to the vernal equinox. First run in 1907. It's the longest classic.
- E3 Harelbeke – the first of the "Spring Classics" in Flanders, first held in 1958.
- Gent–Wevelgem – first raced in 1934, in recent years held on the Sunday between Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders.
- Tour of Flanders – (Ronde van Vlaanderen) is normally raced in early April, first held in 1913.
- Paris–Roubaix – La Reine ("Queen of the Classics") or l'Enfer du Nord ("The Hell of the North") is traditionally held one week after the Tour of Flanders, and was first raced in 1896.
- Amstel Gold Race – normally held mid-April, it is the first of the three Ardennes Classics or hill classics, one week after Paris–Roubaix. First run in 1966.
- La Flèche Wallonne – the Walloon Arrow is the second Ardennes Classic, since 2004 held mid-week between the Amstel Gold Race and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. First run in 1936.
- Liège–Bastogne–Liège – La Doyenne, the oldest Classic, was first raced in 1892. It is the third Ardennes Classic, held in late April, one week after the Amstel Gold Race.
The summer classics are held from July to September.
- Clásica de San Sebastián – known as Donostia–Donostia in the Basque Country
- EuroEyes Cyclassics, formerly HEW Cyclassics and Vattenfall Cyclassics – also known as the Hamburg Cyclassics
- Trittico Lombardo – three separate races in Lombardy, traditionally in August but recently moved to September:
- Bretagne Classic – held in late August on a circuit near the small Breton village of Plouay
- Laurentian Classics – two one-day races in Canada, named after the Saint Lawrence River that runs through Quebec, organized since 2010
The autumn classics are held from September to November.
- Paris–Brussels – First held in 1893, since 2013 renamed the Brussels Cycling Classic and only run on Belgian territory
- Grand Prix de Fourmies – held since 1928 in Northern France
- Paris–Tours – known as the "Sprinters' Classic", first race in 1896
- Trittico di Autunno – three Italian races in the week after the World Championship late September:
- Milano–Torino – first run in 1876, the race had some continuity problems due to financial problems but has returned to the UCI calendar in 2012.
- Giro del Piemonte – first run in 1906
- Giro di Lombardia – also known as the "Race of the Falling Leaves", first held in 1905 as Milano–Milano. Considered the biggest Autumn Classic in cycling
- Giro dell'Emilia – one week after the Giro di Lombardia, one of the hardest Classics on the calendar, with the famous San Luca, Bologna circuit.
- Japan Cup – held since 1992, at the end of October, around Utsunomiya
Season openers are usually not regarded as highly as other classics, but receive a lot of attention because of their position early in the season, typically in February.
- Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – opening the Belgian cycling season, forming a double header with Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne which is held the following day
- Grand Prix d'Ouverture La Marseillaise – opening the French cycling season
- Trofeo Laigueglia – opening the Italian cycling season
- Trofeo Pollença – opening the Spanish cycling season as part of the Vuelta a Mallorca
Some Classics have disappeared, often because of financial problems. These include:
- Paris–Brest–Paris – an exceptionally long event (ca. 1200 km), held once every 10 years from 1891 to 1951 as a professional race
- Bordeaux–Paris – the gruelling 560 km, partly motor-paced event, run from 1891 to 1988
- Wincanton Classic – held from 1989 to 1997, the most important British race in the 1990s
- Porto–Lisboa – held from 1911 to 2004 (the longest one-day classic from 1989 until it was cancelled)
- Züri–Metzgete – also known as the Championship of Zürich, held from 1914 to 2006; in its heyday considered the sixth Monument
- Giro del Lazio – held from 1933 to 2008 (The race returned briefly in 2013 and 2014 as the Roma Maxima)
- Giro della Romagna – held from 1911 to 2011 (the race merged with the Memorial Marco Pantani in 2013, as they were both held in Emilia–Romagna)
The five Monuments are generally considered to be the oldest, hardest and most prestigious one-day events in cycling. They each have a long history and specific individual characteristics. They are currently the one-day races in which most points can be earned in the UCI World Tour (100 pts for the winner).
- Milan–San Remo – the first major Classic of the year, its Italian name is La Primavera (the spring), because it is held in late March. First run in 1907, it is notable for being considered the sprinter's classic. This race is particularly long (ca. 300 km (190 mi)) though mostly flat along the Ligurian coast, enabling sprinters to compete.
- Tour of Flanders – the Ronde van Vlaanderen in Dutch/Flemish, the first of the Cobbled classics, is raced every first Sunday of April. It was first held in 1913, making it the youngest of the five Monuments. Notable for the narrow short hills (hellingen) in the Flemish Ardennes, usually steep and cobbled, the route forces the best riders to continually fight for space at the front. The course changes slightly every year: since 2017 the race starts in Antwerp and since 2012 finishes in Oudenaarde.
- Paris–Roubaix – the Queen of the Classics or l'Enfer du Nord ("The Hell of the North") is raced traditionally one week after the Tour of Flanders and is the last of the cobbled races. It was first organized in 1896. Its decisive sites are the many long sections of pavé (roads of cobblestones) making it the most unpleasant one-day race. It is considered by many to be the most heroic one-day cycling event of the year. The race finishes on the iconic Roubaix Velodrome. At the end of the race, riders are usually covered in dirt and/or mud in what is considered one of the most brutal tests of mental and physical endurance in all of cycling.
- Liège–Bastogne–Liège – held in late April. La Doyenne, the oldest Classic, is the last of the Ardennes classics and usually the last of the spring races. It was first organized in 1892 as an amateur event; a professional edition followed in 1894. It is a long and arduous race notable for its many sharp hills in the Ardennes and uphill finish in the industrial suburbs of Liège, favouring climbers and even grand tour specialists.
- Giro di Lombardia – the Autumn Classic or the Race of the Falling Leaves, is held in October or late September. Initially organized as Milano–Milano in 1905, it was called the Giro di Lombardia (Tour of Lombardy) in 1907 and Il Lombardia in 2012. It is notable for its hilly and varied course around the Como Lake with a flat finish in Bergamo. Since 2012 it has a new, earlier date at the end of September, one week after the World Championship. It is often won by climbers with a strong sprint finish.
Both Belgian 'monuments' – The Tour of Flanders and Liège–Bastogne–Liège – also have women's events. A women's version of Milan–San Remo, named Primavera Rosa, was initiated in 1999, but cancelled after 2005.
Most Monuments wins
Only three riders have won all five Monument races during their careers: Rik Van Looy, Eddy Merckx and Roger De Vlaeminck, all three Belgians, and only Eddy Merckx won each of them more than once. Five riders won four of the Monuments. With victories in all the other Monuments, Sean Kelly almost joined the top group, finishing second in the Tour of Flanders on three occasions (1984, 1986 and 1987). Dutch rider Hennie Kuiper won each Monument, except Liège–Bastogne–Liège in which he finished second in 1980. Frenchman Louison Bobet, also won all but Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Belgian rider Fred De Bruyne also came close, finishing second in the Giro di Lombardia in 1955 and winning the other four races during his career. Germain Derycke also won four races, all except the Giro di Lombardia. Twenty riders have won at least five Monuments in their career.
|1||Merckx, EddyEddy Merckx||Belgium||1966||1976||7||2||3||5||2||19|
|2||De Vlaeminck, RogerRoger De Vlaeminck||Belgium||1970||1979||3||1||4||1||2||11|
|3||Girardengo, CostanteCostante Girardengo||Italy||1918||1928||6||3||9|
|Coppi, FaustoFausto Coppi||Italy||1946||1954||3||1||5||9|
|Kelly, SeanSean Kelly||Ireland||1983||1992||2||2||2||3||9|
|6||Van Looy, RikRik Van Looy||Belgium||1958||1965||1||2||3||1||1||8|
|7||Bartali, GinoGino Bartali||Italy||1939||1950||4||3||7|
|Boonen, TomTom Boonen||Belgium||2005||2012||3||4||7|
|Cancellara, FabianFabian Cancellara||Switzerland||2006||2014||1||3||3||7|
|10||Pelissier, HenriHenri Pélissier||France||1911||1921||1||2||3||6|
|Binda, AlfredoAlfredo Binda||Italy||1925||1931||2||4||6|
|De Bruyne, FredFred De Bruyne||Belgium||1956||1959||1||1||1||3||6|
|Moser, FrancescoFrancesco Moser||Italy||1975||1984||1||3||2||6|
|Argentin, MorenoMoreno Argentin||Italy||1985||1991||1||4||1||6|
|Museeuw, JohanJohan Museeuw||Belgium||1993||2002||3||3||6|
|16||Belloni, GaetanoGaetano Belloni||Italy||1915||1928||2||3||5|
|Van Steenbergen, RikRik Van Steenbergen||Belgium||1944||1954||1||2||2||5|
|Hinault, BernardBernard Hinault||France||1977||1984||1||2||2||5|
|Bartoli, MicheleMichele Bartoli||Italy||1996||2003||1||2||2||5|
|Bettini, PaoloPaolo Bettini||Italy||2000||2006||1||2||2||5|
|21||Rebry, GastonGaston Rebry||Belgium||1931||1935||1||3||4|
|Schepers, AlfonsAlfons Schepers||Belgium||1929||1935||1||3||4|
|Bobet, LouisonLouison Bobet||France||1951||1956||1||1||1||1||4|
|Derycke, GermainGermain Derycke||Belgium||1953||1958||1||1||1||1||4|
|Gimondi, FeliceFelice Gimondi||Italy||1966||1974||1||1||2||4|
|Godefroot, WalterWalter Godefroot||Belgium||1967||1978||2||1||1||4|
|Kuiper, HennieHennie Kuiper||Netherlands||1981||1985||1||1||1||1||4|
|Raas, JanJan Raas||Netherlands||1977||1983||1||2||1||4|
|Zabel, ErikErik Zabel||Germany||1997||2001||4||4|
|Valverde, AlejandroAlejandro Valverde||Spain||2006||2017||4||4|
|Gilbert, PhilippePhilippe Gilbert||Belgium||2009||2017||1||1||2||4|
|Houa, LéonLéon Houa||Belgium||1892||1894||3||3|
|Lapize, OctaveOctave Lapize||France||1909||1911||3||3|
|Vermandel, RenéRené Vermandel||Belgium||1921||1924||1||2||3|
|Brunero, GiovanniGiovanni Brunero||Italy||1922||1924||1||2||3|
|Gijssels, RomainRomain Gijssels||Belgium||1931||1932||2||1||3|
|Buysse, AchielAchiel Buysse||Belgium||1940||1943||3||3|
|Magni, FiorenzoFiorenzo Magni||Italy||1949||1951||3||3|
|de Roo, JoJo de Roo||Netherlands||1962||1965||1||2||3|
|Daems, EmileEmile Daems||Belgium||1960||1963||1||1||1||3|
|Simpson, TomTom Simpson||United Kingdom||1961||1965||1||1||1||3|
|Leman, EricEric Leman||Belgium||1970||1973||3||3|
|Tchmil, AndreiAndrei Tchmil||Moldova/ Belgium||1994||2000||1||1||1||3|
|Tafi, AndreaAndrea Tafi||Italy||1996||2002||1||1||1||3|
|Van Petegem, PeterPeter Van Petegem||Belgium||1999||2003||2||1||3|
|Freire, OscarOscar Freire||Spain||2004||2010||3||3|
|Cunego, DamianoDamiano Cunego||Italy||2004||2008||3||3|
Riders in blue are still active. Number of wins in gold indicates the current record holder(s).
Most wins in a single year
Only Eddy Merckx has been able to win three 'Monuments' in a single year - and he did it four times:
- 1969: Milan–San Remo, Tour of Flanders and Liège–Bastogne–Liège.
- 1971: Milan–San Remo, Liège–Bastogne–Liège and Giro di Lombardia.
- 1972: Milan–San Remo, Liège–Bastogne–Liège and Giro di Lombardia.
- 1975: Milan–San Remo, Tour of Flanders and Liège–Bastogne–Liège.
List of 'Monuments' winners
Winners by nationality
- The result in 1949 took several months and two international conferences to sort out. André Mahé was first but his win was challenged because he took the wrong course. Mahé was in a break of three that reached Roubaix velodrome in the lead, but he was misdirected by officials and entered the track by the wrong gate. Mahé was declared winner but a few minutes later other riders arrived using the correct route and Serse Coppi, brother of famous Fausto, won the sprint for what was assumed to be the minor placings. After a protest and several months, Serse Coppi was named joint winner with Mahé.
- Two riders shared the 1957 race. Germain Derijcke was first over the line, but because he crossed a closed rail crossing, the second-place rider, Frans Schoubben, was promoted to first as well. Derijcke was not disqualified, because he had won by three minutes advantage; judges felt he had not gained that much time from illegally crossing the railway.
- "Index des courses disparues". memoire-du-cyclisme.eu.
- "Giro del Lazio is dead, long live Roma Maxima". Cycling Weekly. 18 February 2013.
- "Presentato il Memorial Marco Pantani - anche Giro della Romagna". GS Emilia. 19 May 2013.
- Cycling Hall of Fame: Introduction, 2010, retrieved 2010-07-12
- Cycling Monuments, 2010, retrieved 2010-07-12
- "Cancellara dreams of all winning all five of cycling monuments", CyclingNews.com, 2010, retrieved 2010-07-12
- "New-look route for Liege-Bastogne-Liege as debut women's parcours unveiled". cyclingnews.com. Immediate Media Company. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
- Westemeyer, Susan (26 January 2006). "Women's Milan-San Remo cancelled". Retrieved 18 May 2015.
- Bouvet, Philippe; Brunel, Phillipe; Callewaert, Pierre; Gatellier, Jean-Luc; Laget, Serge (2010). The Spring Classics: Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races. VeloPress. ISBN 978-1-934030-60-8.
- Cossins, Peter (2014). The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling’s Greatest One-day Races. London: A & C Black. ISBN 978-1-4088-4682-7.
- Fotheringham, William (2003). A Century of Cycling: The Classic Races and Legendary Champions. London: Mitchell Beazley. ISBN 978-0-7603-1553-8.
- Henderson, Noel (1989). European Cycling: The 20 Classic Races. Vitesse Press. ISBN 978-0-941950-20-6.
- Schneider, Mathias (2015). CONNECTED, Four Northern Spring Races. Wanderer Books. ISBN 978-3-945572-03-0.