Those of us who follow the minutia of professional cycling can be a bit obsessive. The sport is painfully nuanced. It can take years to fully grasp what is happening during a race. To many the peloton looks like a large group of riders making their way down a road. To cycling fans, it’s a bee hive of activity. Not to mention the drama surrounding the riders, the teams, and the general chaos that accompanies the sport.
The road season is long these days, with ten solid months of racing at the WorldTour level. When it’s finally over after the Giro di Lombardia in early October, it can be a bit of a shock. Fortunately for fans of professional cycling, the off-season is officially over, and the Spring Classics are just around the corner.
Racing in the Southern Hemisphere
Technically, racing at the UCI WorldTour level has been underway since the middle of January. The Tour Down Under has grown from a training race for the professionals to an event that can net riders valuable UCI points. This has certainly elevated the level of racing, and has given fans of the sport something to fill the void left by the end of racing in the Northern Hemisphere.
And speaking of filling the void, the Tour Columbia 2.1 was an incredible show of what’s lacking in many modern stage races. Yes, the format was a bit limited with it’s six days of racing, but what a dynamic race! It was like watching footage of a race from the 1980s. Conservative racing was found nowhere out on the roads of Columbia. Attacks were full gas and frequent.
The generally well orchestrated tactics of the WorldTour teams seemed to go out the window in favor of racing on instinct. If you are a fan of cycling and have yet to check out any of the coverage that has been uploaded on YouTube, do yourself a favor and check it out. You will not be disappointed.
Is it Spring Yet?
Despite the excitement granted by the racing in Columbia, for many of us who follow the sport of professional cycling, the season doesn’t really kick off until early March. As much as I love the summer Grand Tours, the Spring Classics are my favorite. These one day events are contested by the brutes of the peloton. The races are fought out over demanding courses, and everything is left on the road.
When Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is ridden on March 2, it’s just the prologue of what’s to come. The following eight weeks of racing offer fans of cycling an incredible range of races to watch. Sprinter classics, cobbled classics, the gravel roads of Tuscany, the scenery of northwest Italy, the hills of the Ardennes, these all play a role for two glorious months in the early spring.
For cycling fans everywhere, the next couple of months are a great time of year. It’s when racing begins in earnest, and it’s some of the toughest racing on the calendar. These races have a tendency to reward the experienced underdog from time to time, which is not something that can really be said about the Grand Tours. Experience counts when it comes to the Spring Classics. Will we see an upset like Matthew Hayman at Paris-Roubaix in 2016? There’s only one way to find out, tune in and hold on!