It's that time of year, and the hardcore roadie cyclist lives from week to week, and here in Oz stays up late to bear witness. For it's now that the convicts of the road do battle in the most savage and demanding of races, the monuments of the north. Flanders, Roubaix, cobbles and climbs, the giants of the road leave nothing in the tank in the search for fortune and glory.
It is hard to overstate the scale and the importance of the great classics. Huge crowds, saturation media and the most brutal of riding. In recent years the timely addition of a women's race to Flanders and mass start sportive's for all the classics have added further to the scale and the carnival.
The popularity and the importance of the classics rests on a foundation of history and story. So many years of battle, so many legends of the road. Museeuw, the Lion of Flanders, De Vlaminck, Cancellara, Boonen, Kelly and so many more have etched their names into the story books. Lizzie Deignan, Anna Van Der Breggen and Marianne Vos have all added to the stories in recent years also. Scenes of mud, crashes, dust and rain are all part of an iconography instantly recognisable to all who follow road cycling.
The thing about the classics is that there is no tommorrow. Stage races are all about conservation of effort, thinking of the days ahead and saving your resources. In the classics, it is all out, all or nothing, here and now. It makes for racing like no other and extravagant, do or die efforts that have us all on the edge of our seats.
So sit back, crack open the Belgian beer and enjoy the spectacle.
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