The 2015 Monuments

Milan SanRemo - Ribble Cycles

 

Milan-San Remo – 22nd March

The first of the five, and also the longest. Milan-San Remo takes in 298km of breathtaking Italian scenery, although the relatively flat nature of the course means that the competitors do not get too much chance to take it in! The ‘Sprinters Classic’.
The most successful rider to take part is Eddy Merckx, with a colossal total of 7 wins! Arguably the greatest rider ever (although I don’t know who you might argue could match him) Merckx has a glittering Palmares where the Classics and Grand Tours are concerned.

2014 standings

  1. Alexander Kristoff – Katusha (NOR)
  2. Fabian Cancellara – Trek Factory Racing (SUI)
  3. Ben Swift – Team Sky (GBR)

Tour of Flanders - Ribble Cycles

Tour of Flanders – 5th April

Usually taking place on the first Sunday in April, the Tour of Flanders is the classic that is most suited to the ‘well rounded’ cyclist – perhaps the jack of all trades rather than the master of any (perhaps a slight advantage favouring the sprinters). No huge sprint sections to speak of, some heroic (but short) climbs, cobbles – It’s got the lot! There are a bunch of riders with 3 wins to their name, including both Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara so we could have an outright ‘most wins’ leader after the 2015 edition.

2014 standings

  1. Fabian Cancellara – Trek Factory Racing (SUI)
  2. Greg Van Avermaet – BMC Racing Team (BEL)
  3. Sep Vanmarcke – Belkin (BEL)

Paris Roubaix - Ribble Cycles

Paris-Roubaix – 12th April

The most romantic of the Monuments, and also the most notorious. If it isn’t punctures or breakdowns causing problems caused by the cobbles, it is the jostling for position on narrow lanes that put paid to many a riders afternoons. First run in 1896, the original race ran all the way from Paris to Roubaix. Since 1968 the start point has been in Compiègne (about 50 miles north-east of Paris) but the name has stuck regardless. Among its nicknames are ‘the Hell of the North’, ‘a Sunday in Hell’ and the seemingly unrelated ‘Queen of the Classics’. Since 1977 winner are presented with a ‘sett’ – this is a cobble stone from the road as part of their prize.

2014 Standings

  1. Niki Terpstra – Omega Pharma Quick-Step (NED)
  2. John Degenkolb – Giant Shimano (GER)
  3. Fabian Cancellara – Trek Factory Racing (SUI)

Liege Bastogne Liege - Ribble Cycles

Liège-Bastogne-Liège – 26th April

The oldest of the classics, dating back to 1892, Liège-Bastogne-Liège is actually worse than the dull commute it sounds like. Packed with steep climbs, and often contested in appalling weather conditions, it favours aggressive riders willing to throw caution to the wind somewhat. The original Belgian Monument, run in the Ardennes region, has been won 5 times by that man again, The Cannibal, Eddy Merckx – perhaps the best indication of the desire it takes to win it.

2014 standings

  1. Simon Gerrans -Orica GreenEdge (AUS)
  2. Alejandro Valverde Belomte – Movistar (ESP)
  3. Michal Kwiatkowski – Omega Pharma Quick-Step (POL)

Giro di Lombardia - Ribble Cycles

Giro di Lombardia – 4th October

Chronologically the last of the monuments… and miles away from the other four! The Giro di Lombardia, or Tour of Lombardy, is also known as ‘La Classica Delle Foglie Morte’ – The Classic of the Dead Leaves, due to its being held in autumn rather than anything more nefarious.

With a changing route over the years, Il Lombardia takes in the beauty of the Lombardy region with starts and finishes having taken place in Milan, Como, Lecco, Monza and most recently Bergamo.

Mr Merckx is not the most frequent winner here, although he has won it twice, instead the legendary Italian rider Faust Coppi takes these plaudits with 5 wins to his name.

2014 Standings

  1. Dan Martin – Garmin-Sharp (IRL)
  2. Alejandro Valverde – Movistar (ESP)
  3. Rui Costa – Lampre Merida (POR)

 

So there you have it – a brief overview of the 5 monuments. Tips for this year include Sir Bradley Wiggins, who is targeting Paris-Roubaix as his primary focus in spring. After finishing 9th in last year’s edition, Sir Brad will be after adding one more title that currently evades his palmares. All of the monuments will be really open though, and that’s the beauty of them – they’re anyones on the day!