Autumn 2019 may seem like a long way away, but in our experience, the end of the bike racing season comes around faster than you think it will. These are the most important races on the programme for the end of the 2019 race season.
Tour of Poland: 3–9 August
The Tour of Poland is the first race in August 2019. This event often receives rather little attention, because the race takes place in the middle of the summer holidays and is jammed in between the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting preparatory race for the Vuelta. In recent years we’ve seen top-class riders such as Vincenzo Nibali, Simon Yates, Wout Poels, Wilco Kelderman, Sam Oomen and Thibaut Pinot battling it out in Poland. They then go on to shine in the Vuelta, so this race is a great test of form. The Tour of Poland has a lot of climbing and if you get the chance to follow it, it’s really worth watching.
BinckBank Tour: 12–18 August
The BinckBank Tour used to be called the Eneco Tour and takes place in the Netherlands and Belgium. The race is ideal preparation for sprinters in getting the legs ready for the Vuelta à España. It also has a couple of hilly stages for climbers, passing through the rolling landscapes of Limburg and the Ardenne. The overall victory tends to go to someone who can climb a hill or two. Recent editions of the race have seen big names fight it out for glory, such as Tom Dumoulin, Philip Gilbert and Peter Sagan.
La Vuelta a España: 24 August–15 September
The last three-week Grand Tour of the season: the Vuelta a España (the Tour of Spain). This race has the reputation of being a kind of extra bonus at the end of the season, and tends be short of some of the really big names in professional cycling. In general, it’s a race riders enter if they’re making up for a bad season, or an injury earlier on in the season. Riding both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta is do-able for professionals. Indeed, the winner in 2018, Simon Yates, also did well in the Giro. Until it all went pear-shaped in the third week, that is…
Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec: 13 September
There are two excellent one-day races in Canada towards the end of the season. These races are excellent for riders who can deal with a few hills, but also have a good sprint in their legs. This double bill is often used by riders who want to get in form for the UCI World Championships. The first of the pair is a race around Quebec, suited to names like Peter Sagan, Greg van Avermaet, Rigoberto Uran and Team Sunweb’s Michael Matthews, who won in 2018.
Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal: 15 September
Two days later, roughly the same group of riders land in the wonderful city of Montreal. The riders have to complete a local circuit a number of times, which includes around 4,500m of elevation gain. Again, it’s the sprinter that can climb that does best here. Having said that, the first ever edition was won by Dutchman Robert Gesink, who is not known for his sprint.
Il Lombardia: 12 October
This is one of the most attractive one-day races of the year. It’s the last of the five one-day race ‘monuments’ of the season. The others being the Milan-San Remo, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Paris–Roubaix and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Il Lombardia is often ridden in challenging weather, which makes it worth watching from the comfort of the sofa. The course includes a lot of climbing, breathtaking descents and great Italian scenery. Because this race is important to the riders, it means this race often ensures an attractive winner. For example, recent years have seen Thibaut Pinot, Nibali, Esteban Chaves and Tony Martin climb to the top of the victor’s podium. This is a date you should already put in your diary as a day to stay at home and watch the race unfold.
Tour of Guangxi: 15–20 October
The bike racing season is all but over once Il Lombardia has finished. There are, however, a couple races still on the UCI World Tour calendar but big names usually stay away. The first is held around the city of Guanxi and offers a few stages for sprinters and a couple for the climbers, which often go to the riders such as Tim Wellens and Bauke Mollema.
Tour of Turkey: 22–27 October
The Tour of Turkey is the last big race of the year. In the past this race took place in the spring, but the calendar’s rather full at the beginning of the season, so it got moved to the end. The good thing about this race is that it’s often held in good weather, which gives the riders one last incentive to race ‘full-gas’ (meaning really hard/ fast). The less good thing about this race is that the riders are dying for a rest, and this race often has the feeling of being an obligation.