Hello one and all and a wheely good welcome to Paul Ashman Cycling.
So what is a Classic? A novel that’s stood the test of time, a piece of music or song that is still played over and over many years after its release or a car like an E-Type Jaguar. Yes they all meet that criteria and term but ask someone in the Cycling world then it’s a different answer all together.
Tour of Flanders, Liege Bastoigne Liege, Amstel Gold and the greatest of them all Paris Roubaix……these are all classics in the cycling world. Every March and April the peleton heads for Belgium, North France and The Netherlands for the teams respective classics campaigns. This time of year can throw up all sorts of weather and it’s this that is one of the factors that makes every race a spectacle and an unknown. There is always a favourite but often this isn’t who wins and only the toughest hardest men in the sport survive to take top spot on the podium. Take last year at Roubaix who would have bet on Mat Hayman to triumph over Boonen, Stannard and Van Marche.
The cobbled classics of Belgium require an upmost amount of skill and resilience to conquer. Coupled with the bergs, some with up to 20% inclines it really sorts out the hardmen in cycling. Last year at Flanders Sagan broke clear over the Patterberg and soloed to victory. I don’t think many will bet against him repeating that again this year. He has already just a fortnight ago come second at Omloop and won the following day in Kuurne so is clearly showing he has the legs. After Flanders the following weekend is Paris Roubaix or better known as the Hell of the North. This is probably one of if not the hardest race in cycling. Leaving Compiegne in Northern Paris the parcours winds itself up through France to Roubaix via many kilometres of horrendous cobble stone sections. These rattle the bike and body like no other roads. Tom Boonen is one of the most successful classics riders of our generation and will be bidding for record 5th win in Roubaix before retiring after the race. It will bring the curtain down on a career from a man who has won pretty much every Classic, been world champion and wore the coveted Yellow Jersey. Good luck Tornado Tom!
Alongside the ones mentioned there are many other classics that in their own right command a great deal of talent and a raw edge to show you have what it takes to win. Whether the white gravel roads of Strade Bianche, the gruelling 290 kilometres of Milan San Remo or the relentless winds across the Belgian open lands in E3 or Gent Wevelgelm these races require a complete all round rider. Chapeau to every rider who enters, rides and to the few who conquer victorious.
So to my tips and these are just my opinion of who I feel and believe could come out on top.
Milan San Remo – many would disagree but 8 years after his previous win there I feel it’s the year for Mark Cavendish.
Tour of Flanders – I cannot see past Peter Sagan. He is a complete solid riding machine and his physique suited to the terrain the race throws up.
Paris Roubaix – I would love to see a home win in the shape of Luke Rowe like any other Brit. However it would be a fitting end to a glittering career to see Tom Boonen take his fifth victory here and that’s who my money will be on.
Liege Bastoigne Liege – already showing strength and good legs I believe this will be Dan Martins second victory in Liege come mid April
That’s all for now so happy riding folks and please check out Paul Ashman Cycling on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.