Dwars door Vlaanderen: April 3
The third race happening during the Flemish Cycling week is called Dwars door Vlaanderen (literally: Straight Across Flanders). The race consists of difficult climbs, such as the Knokteberg, the Kruisberg and the Taaienberg. In addition, the race has various cobblestoned routes, making it a race where those on the attack often get away with the win. In recent years, we have seen wonderful attackers such as Yves Lampaert, Jelle Wallays and Terpstra celebrate their victories here.
Tour of Flanders: April 7
The Tour of Flanders is the second major classic of the year. It is one of the most beautiful races too, and it makes you feel jealous if you’re not in Belgium attending the festivities in person. It is a race with alternating cobbled sections and short, sharp climbs, and one where the strongest man often wins. In 2018, Niki Terpstra took home the win — but names like Gilbert, Sagan, Kristoff, Cancellara and Boonen have also won here in the past.
Tour of the Basque Country: April 8 – 13
Like the Tour of Catalonia, the Tour of the Basque Country is a race for climbers. It is a race that occurs exactly between the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, so the event often goes unnoticed and does not always receive the attention it deserves. It is very a Spanish affair, with winners such as Valverde, Contador, Rodriguez and Sanchez. Last year Primoz Roglic of Lotto NL Jumbo took the victory.
Paris-Roubaix: April 14
Paris-Roubaix is without a doubt one of the most beautiful races of the year. Like the Tour de France, this race is recognised worldwide. Without question, the most exciting editions to watch (and the toughest to ride) are the ones when it rains. The differences become clear on the cobbled sections, before riders end on the world-famous Roubaix Vélodrome.
Photo: Cor Vos
Amstel Gold Race: April 21
The Amstel Gold Race is the only classic that is staged in the Netherlands. The riders will race through the Limburg landscape, where the route always goes up and down. The final used to be on the Cauberg hill, but in recent years the race hasn’t finished there, so now it is open to those without uphill sprinting skills. Of late, guys such as Valgren, Gilbert and Kwiatkowski have won here.
La Flèche Wallonne: April 24
In recent years you could also call the La Flèche Wallonne the ‘Grand Prix Valverde’, as he won the race four times between 2014 and 2017 — not to mention his win in 2006, making a total of no less than five wins. The finish is on the sharp Mur of Huy, which has dizzying hill gradients. Last year, the prize went somewhat surprisingly to Julian Alaphilippe.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège: April 28
The last great classic of Spring is Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which is a cycling monument along with Paris-Roubaix, Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and the Tour of Lombardy. Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a race where, just as with the Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne, a lot of hills have to be climbed, and at the finish often only a handful of riders still have the strength to fight for the win. Jungels, Valverde, Poels, Gerrans and Martin were the last few winners.
Tour of Romandie: April 30 – May 5
The Tour of Romandie is considered to be one of the most important races in preparation for the Giro d’Italia. It takes place in Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and is known for having a bunch of tough climbing stages and a challenging time trial. Primož Roglič, riding for the Dutch LottoNL–Jumbo team, won in 2018. Previous victors include Richie Porte, Nairo Quintana, Ilnur Zakarin, Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins.