Dust will be kicked up, crashes will be had and blood – almost certainly – will be spilt; welcome to the ‘real’ start to the cycling season.
These are some of the most ancient and iconic races that the sport of cycling has to offer. Exemplifying grit, tenacity and sheer bravery over anything else, the top riders are often viewed as gladiators – the cobblestones that litter Northern France and Belgium their coliseum. Unlike the Grand Tours that function as month-long attritionfests, the classics are one-shot, all-or-nothing affairs, with no redemptions ‘tomorrow’.
Fans will flock to the roadside in their thousands to watch these thrilling, no-holds-barred races, sacrificing hours of their time for just one fleeting glimpse of their heroes. Even more will sit glued to their seats, watching the race from afar, vying for their champion to turn the screw and put their enemies on the rivet.
Roadside, bar-side or even sofa-side, the classics have a unique feel that no other cycling races possess. Whether it’s an all-or-nothing attack on the Koppenberg, or a bunch sprint in the Roubaix velodrome, the classics will toy with your emotions right up until the very end, leaving you just as breathless as the riders themselves.
We’ll be screening all the big classics live at our store in Shoreditch. Come and channel your inner Flandrian with a punchy Belgian beer as you shout home your favourite hardman.
The first few races are just around the corner, the cobbled ‘Baby Classics’ begin this week with the double-header of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (2 March) and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne (3 March). Strade Bianche (9 March) is next weekend and the sprinter-friendly Milan-Sanremo also falls within the month of March.
It’s then onto April and two of the biggest weekends in cycling – the Tour of Flanders (7 April) followed by Paris-Roubaix (14 April), the two ultimate symbols of classic, gritty cycling culture. We’ll be doing something extra special for Flanders – keep it locked to our social for details.
The Flandrian kitlist
Inspired to ride? Here are six pieces of kit that’ll suit the bitter, transitional weather between Winter and Spring, as well as get you stoked for the next two months of action-packed bicycle racing.
Belgian Boys Club – St Hubert Winter Jacket
There’s no escaping the bitterness of transitional Spring, but you can prepare to fight it. This St Hubert Winter Jacket from Belgian Boys Club helps to stave off the worst of the cold with its two-in-one layer approach – a thermal vest and hand-sleeves integrated into the thick, but lightweight outer material.
Attaquer – Women’s All Day Club Jacket
Offering ultimate protection against the elements, this Women’s All Day Club Jacket from Attaquer is the perfect choice for long, chilly days in the saddle. With an inner, insulating fleece and a waterproof outer, this jacket takes care of the bad weather, leaving you to focus on what matters – mashing the cobbled track ahead.
Belgian Boys Club – Tommeke Bib Shorts
Tested on the cobbles of Flanders themselves, these bibs strike the perfect balance between comfort and style – because you can’t glide across the cobbles like ‘Tommeke’, without first looking like the Flandrian legend.
Belgian Boys Club – Signature High Tops
Stamped with the lion of Flanders, these Signature High Tops from Belgian Boys Club will have you channelling your inner cobbled-munching beast as you gurn your way to the top of hellishly steep bergs.
Attaquer – Winter Gloves
Not all of us are born Flandrian, our skin not as leathery and resistant to the cold. For that reason, these gloves from Attaquer are the perfect accessory for a long day out in questionable weather. Comfy, breathable and windproof, they allow you to enjoy each and every aspect of your ride, no matter the conditions.
Albion – Toolroll
The roads are strewn with all manner of debris at this time of year, making us prone to multiple punctures. Prepare for the worst with this handy Toolroll from Albion, it’s got enough space to fit all the necessary tools as well as a spare inner tube, while fitting neatly underneath your saddle.
Attaquer – Arm Warmers
For the ever-changing weather of Spring, you’re going to need to be adaptable. Long sleeve jerseys and winter jackets are great, but on those days where the sun is teasing you behind a cloud, removable arm warmers – like these super-soft ones from Attaquer – are the ideal choice.