And why you should watch the Classics rather than the Tour de France.
The Five Monuments: The 5 biggest of the Classics races on the UCI (the governing body of professional cycling) World Tour calendar. The Classics are one-day races that for the most part take place earlier in the Pro Cycling season. Most are in March and April before we get into the Grand Tours such as the Giro di Italia and the Tour de France. These races are long, brutal days in the saddle, won by those racers we call “strong men”. As opposed to the emaciated climbers who tend to win the Grand Tours, the Monuments are typically won by the powerful racers that can put the pedal to the metal all day long. These are the true tests of power. Proving a riders ability to lay it all on the line for one single day. Winning any one of these 5 is often the crowning achievement of a racers entire career. Winning one of the Monument is the difference between no one knowing your name and historic fame.
In a sport dripping with history and tradition, five of these Classics have cauterized themselves into the annals of cycling.
Milan – San Remo – March 18, 2017 – the longest single day race of the season at 291 km.
The Tour of Flanders – April 2, 2017 – One of the two major cobbled classics along with the Paris – Roubaix. Named so after the many long stretches of cobbled roads the riders must endure.
Paris-Roubaix – April 9, 2017 – The “Hell of the North”, also known for it’s cobbles or pave. Perhaps the most grueling of the Monuments.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège – April 23, 2017 – Won five times by the legendary Eddy Merckx, this race is considered one of the most arduous one-day cycling events in the world because of its length and demanding course.
Il Lombardia – September 30 – Considered to be the oldest (though it isn’t) and most prestigious of the monuments.
While the Grand Tours are weeks long competitions, drawn out and exhausting, the Classics and in particular the Five Monuments are single day battles. Packed with drama, excitement, blood shed, and tears. In the end only one man reigns victorious and he leaves the rest, battered and wheezing, in his wake.
Though these races pack the pubs of Europe like the Super Bowl does here in the U.S., coverage on this side of the pond is almost non-existent. Most of us don’t have a Eurovision subscription, so the best resource to find live streaming coverage of these and most any pro level road race is steephilltv.com.
Most of the Classics are also accompanied by a womens race that parallels the mens race in intensity. Though never covered as well, Steephill should be able to lead you in the right direction for viewing the women’s races as well. One day equal coverage will be achieved.