The Hardest Monument Classic

Which classic is the hardest?

It’s an impossible question to answer definitively as the topic will always be somewhat subjective. How do you define ‘hard’? Hills? Cobbles? Wind? Rain? Speed?

Perhaps a good place to start is to rule out all of the classics that are not considered to be one of the five monuments – Milan San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Lombardy. After all, they’re considered to be above all the others for a reason. ~ Continue reading ~

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A Monumental Loss of Tradition

Norwegian, Swiss, Dutch, Australian and Irish -the nationalities of the five winners of the 2014 monument classics were unusually diverse. It was only the fifth time that all five races were won by riders from different countries. Notably the winners didn’t include any Belgians, French, Italians or Spaniards. This is not quite a first in cycling history, but it almost is.

Labelled ‘La Doyenne’ for good reason, the first ever monument classic that took place was Liége-Bastogne-Liége in 1892. Only one year has passed since then where none of the five took place, 1895. The following year after that barren Spring, Paris-Roubaix arrived, soon followed thereafter by the Tour of Lombardy and then Milan San Remo. In 1913, the Tour of Flanders completed what we now hold dear as the set of five biggest one day races and not a year has passed since then, despite the two World Wars, where at least one of them hasn’t taken place. ~ Continue reading ~

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Cancellara – Record Breaker

Twitter is a transient beast. Almost as soon as you plop a thought or a fact or a piece of nonsense on the screen…it’s gone. For all it’s worth, an adequate Twitter search engine still does not exist, rendering this transient information largely inaccessible.

During Fabian Cancellara’s displays of strength in this year’s Milan San Remo and the Tour of Flanders, I happened across a few facts pertaining to his incredible consistency in the monument classics, tweeted them, but now they’re gone. So I’ve collected a few of the better ones here to illustrate just how impressive Cancellara has been over the past few years. ~ Continue reading ~

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The Truth and Complication Commission

The new UCI President Brian Cookson made a number of campaign promises as part of his election manifesto. One of these was the establishment of some sort of process to determine the truth about the doping problem within the sport, primarily so that a figurative line could be drawn demarcating the ushering in of a new era.

Presumably this would result in a deluge of doping related scandal with no repercussions for those participating. After this process, punishments for doping offenders would be more severe and the drip feeding of doping stories which has been occurring since the Festina affair rocked cycling in 1998 would be at an end. ~ Continue reading ~

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Juan José Cobo – A shadow of a man

Whenever a rider wins the Tour de France, after the initial fanfare has abated, the celebrations have fizzled out and the winter starts to bite, the successful cyclist will begin to plan out his training regime and start working towards next year’s goal – winning the Tour de France again.

The same is not true of cycling’s other two Grand Tours, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana. In recent years, the cream of the crop of G.C. riders tend to steer clear of the Giro as received wisdom suggests it does not provide the preparation required to tackle the Tour de France a month later. Consequently, the Giro is contested largely by riders who are not their team’s best G.C. rider along with the usual smattering of Italian favourites seeking glory on home soil. ~ Continue reading ~

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A home Tour de France stage win – but not in France

A stage win in the Tour de France can make a rider’s career. It will boost their salary, increase their marketability and make them a more wanted man. A stage win in the Tour de France achieved by a Frenchman is on another level again. When Thomas Voeckler or Pierre Rolland win a stage of the Tour, almost the entire edition of L’Équipe the following day is written in homage to their victory. A win in France, in the Tour de France, by a man from France is something very special indeed. ~ Continue reading ~

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