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The Classics

Among the most celebrated and storied races in cycling, the Spring Classics begin in February and carry through to late April. Although what determines Classic status is debated, the one-day events are in Europe with long, arduous courses. Below the recent news and features bundle, we celebrate each Classic and Semi Classic individually.

Recent Classics News & Features

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Held February 27 in Belgium, the race formerly known as Het Volk is the first cobbled classic of the year. Past winners include legends like Eddy Merckx and Johan Museeuw. In 2020, Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelon-Scott) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) won in Ninove.

Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne

Held February 28, this semi classic follows hot on the heels of its Belgian neighbor Het Nieuwsblad. Kasper Asgreen won in 2020 — it was the eighth time in the last 14 editions that Quick Step had won there.

Strade Bianche

Held March 6 in Tuscany, the white-gravel-road race is a relative youngster; it was first held in 2007 and many would scoff at it being called a classic. But it's a great race! Last year Annemiek van Vleuten and Wout van Aert won in Siena's picturesque Piazza del Campo, after racing up the steep climb into the center of the medieval city.

Milano-Sanremo

Held March 20, the longest of all classics at 295km was won in 2020 by Wout van Aert. As its name implies, the race runs from Milan down to the coast, then over to Sanremo, where the Poggio climb provides a springboard for winning attacks. But pure climbers almost never win here, as a technical descent off the Poggio leads into a flat-out finish for sprinters.

E3 Saxo Bank Classic

Held March 26, this semi classic has gone by a number of names: E3 BinckBank Classic, E3 Harelbeke, Harelbek-Antwerp-Harelbeke, and E3 Prijs Vlaanderen. This Belgian WorldTour race tackles a number of famed cobbled climbs and is in many ways a warm-up race for Belgium's most important race, the Tour of Flanders.

Gent-Wevelgem

Held March 28, this is one for the sprinters. Last year Jolien D'Hoore and Mads Pedersen each won in the rain.

Dwars Door Vlaanderen

Held on a Wednesday, March 31 this year, this cobbled race goes from Roeselare to Waregem, in Belgium. Covid blocked the race in 2020; in 2019, Ellen van Dijk and Mathieu van der Poel took the wins.

Tour of Flanders

There are classics, and then there are Monuments — the five most prestigious one-day races in all of cycling. The Tour of Flanders is a cobbled classic and a Monument. Chantal van den Broek-Blaak and Mathieu van der Poel were the latest champions in Oudenaarde.

Scheldeprijs

Sandwiched on the Wednesday between Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, Scheldeprijs is a flat and furious sprinter's race — but a curious one where you'll often see Roubaix favorites testing out their cobbles equipment ahead of the Hell of the North alongside sprinters racing deep aero wheels. It will be held this year on April 7.

Paris-Roubaix

Although its "Hell of the North" moniker comes from the ravaged post-WWII landscape of northern France through which it winds, the name aptly applies to the rugged racing conditions as well. While many Belgian races featured cobbled sections, they are all roads on which cars regularly drive, which makes them a bitter smoother and more uniform. The cobbled farmroads of Roubaix, however, are nasty, brutish and — with apologies to Thomas Hobbes — quite long in many sections. George Hincapie may have described Paris-Roubaix best, as the race that "no one wants to ride, but everyone wants to win." First held in 1896, Paris-Roubaix was slated to hold its first women's event in 2020 before it was canceled due to the coronavirus. Paris-Roubaix will be held this year on Sunday, April 11.

Brabantse Pijl

Held on the Wednesday before Amstel Gold, this Belgian race dates back to 1961. Last year Grace Brown (Mitchelton-Scott) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) won. Its name means Brabant Arrow in English. It will be held this year on April 14.

Amstel Gold

After weeks of races that favor bigger, stronger, flatland riders, the racing heads to the hilly Ardennes country. Mathieu van der Poel and Katarzyna Niewiadoma won the last time it was held in 2019. It is scheduled this year for April 18.

Flèche Wallonne

Last year Anna van der Breggen won the race in Wallonia for a record-setting sixth consecutive time. Marc Hirshi took the men's event. This year it will be held April 21.

Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Racing in a fresh world champion's jersey, Julian Alaphilippe was first across the line in Liège last year — but he didn't win; his irregular sprinting earned him a relegation by the race jury. In the women's race — Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes — Lizzie Deignan had distanced herself from the breakaway so there was no sprint to be contested, just an undisputed victory to be celebrated. This year it will be held April 25.