It’s one of the most grueling, highly anticipated, and iconic races of the calendar. Yet Strade Bianche isn’t a monument.
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Riders love it, fans love it, and it packs a mixed-terrain parcours that brings out cobbles-bashers, climbers and puncheurs. So should the Italian race be elevated to the monument status of Milano-Sanremo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and Il Lombardia?
Andrew: No – The monuments are a class of their own
As much as I dig Strade Bianche, it’s not quite monument status, and it never will be.
That’s not to say it’s not one of the great races on the calendar. It is unique and glorious in every sense of the definition of what a bike race should be. And in many ways, especially with its route and setting, the race can out-shine the existing monuments in terms of raw beauty and splendor.
Sure, the designation of a monument is arbitrary at best, but there are certain criteria that make the monuments stand apart. First is the history. All five of cycling’s monuments are among the oldest races on the calendar. History and tradition count for a lot in this sport, and though there are races that are older, the monuments have aged well. Second is the distance: All the monuments are 225km or longer. Why is that significant? Because it’s in that extra final hour of racing or so that makes the monuments truly in a class of their own. And the longer, six-hours-plus of racing that really separates the wheat from the chaff in the peloton.
And then there’s the prestige. Only three riders in history — all Belgians — have won all five monuments. Some may ask why not just extend monument designation to Strade Bianche if you made it longer? Maybe, but that would dilute the importance of the others. Just like tennis has its grand slam and golf has its four majors, cycling has its five monuments. They deserve to remain in a class of their own.
Jim: Certo, why not?
OK, so Strade Bianche doesn’t have a century of history, a seven-hour parcours, and the weight of victories from the legends of the sport in the way that Sanremo or Roubaix does. But it does pile all that spectacle and drama into a modern-day package.
Unpaved roads? Check. An iconic climb and spectacular finishing location? Check. Riders that make it their be-all-and-end all race? Check.
If ever there was such a thing as a modern-day monument, Strade Bianche encapsulates that. It’s epic racing for a dual-screening generation, and I know many of us at VeloNews elevate it to the must-watch of the season. And it’s not just the fans that love it – many in the peloton talk of the romance of the race and how much they want to take the trophy in Siena
I do agree with Hoody that making Strade a sixth monument would be tantamount to scandal in the very traditional world of pro cycling and that it would take away from the romance and prestige of the races that currently enjoy that status. But I don’t think Strade Bianche needs to be labeled as a “monument.” I think in the eyes of many, it’s seen as one anyway.