After the wonderful Spring Classics, from (end of) April onwards, we can get ready for the longer races at the peak of the 2019 race calendar. During these mostly multiple-day races there are battles for various classifications and stage victories. Here’s an overview of the most important races that you won’t want to miss.
Tour of Romandie: 30th of April–5th of May
The Tour of Romandie is considered to be one of the most important races in which to prepare 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.
Credit: Cor Vos
The Giro d’Italia: 11th of May–2nd of June
The Giro d’Italia is the first major three-week bike race in 2019. In recent years this race has been enhanced by Tom Dumoulin, who won in 2017 and came second in 2018. The 2019 Giro route has a surprisingly high number of time trial kilometres. At the same time, there are a whole lot of tough mountains to climb. There’s a high chance of some serious racing fireworks, and of the battle for victory continuing until the bitter end.
Tom Dumoulin in Giro pink. Credit: Cor Vos
Amgen Tour of California: 12th–18th of May
The American state of California hosts its own Tour at the same time as the Giro d’Italia. At first glance, it’s not a very significant race, but in recent years more and more big names have entered this event. The first couple of stages are often flat, but there are also a number of serious climbs on the menu. As a result, victory usually goes to a climber. Recent editions have been won by Egan Bernal, George Bennet and Julian Alaphilippe.
Critérium du Dauphiné: 9th–16th of June
The Critérium du Dauphiné is traditionally one of the main preparation races for the Tour de France. In a week’s racing the riders get a mixture of sprint stages, time trials and climbing stages. And it is the latter that tend to make the difference in the general classification. Riders who show they are in good form in the Critérium du Dauphiné are by definition ones to watch out for during the Tour de France.
Geraint Thomas won the 2018 Dauphiné. Credit: Cor Vos
Tour of Switzerland: 15th–23th of June
Many more riders are choosing the Tour of Switzerland as preparation for the Tour de France. This race is slightly closer on the calendar to the Tour de France than the Critérium du Dauphiné is, which makes it an easier transition for riders onto the most legendary bike race on the planet. The Tour of Switzerland consists primarily of climbing stages, but also features some decent time trialing. In 2018 the Tour of Switzerland was won by Australian Richie Porte, who seem assured of a good Tour de France — unfortunately, he crashed out of the Tour with a broken collar bone.
Credit: Cor Vos
Tour de France: 6th–28th of July
The Tour de France is without doubt the biggest race of the year. For 2019, the organisers have opted to limit the number of time trial kilometres — on paper, this limits the chances of the star Dutch rider and time trial specialist Tom Dumoulin. Instead, there’s a host of spectacular mountain stages scheduled during the final week. Let’s hope the race stays exciting right until the end.
Roglič, Dumoulin and Thomas during the Tour de France 2018. Credit: Cor Vos
Clásica de San Sebastián: 3rd of August
You’re right: this is the odd one out, as it is a one-day race. And the Clásica de San Sebastián often gets ignored or forgotten anyway. However, many riders enter it to carry their form through from the gruelling Tour de France, while others use it to prepare for the Vuelta a España. The race covers around 230km and includes a number of major climbs that usually dictate which type of rider wins.
Julian Alaphilippe beating Bauke Mollema at the 2018 edition of the Clásica de San Sebastián. Credit: Cor Vos