The Spring Classic is a series of one-day races that take place across Northern Europe. With some of the oldest and most iconic events in the sport, they have gone deeply into the history and heritage of cycling.
They will start at the end of February with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, and then turn towards Milan-San Remo, Ghent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, among which are several others. less prestigious races. After a brief lull, attention turns to a set of spring classics, collectively known as the Ardennes classics. These include the Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Each race has its own charm and characteristics: the pavement or cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix and the Flanders icebergs define the elements of two of the most significant races. Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders and Milan-San Remo and Liège-Bastogne-Liège have monument status - a label dedicated to the most prestigious bicycle one-day races. The fifth and final monument to cycling is Lombardy, which takes place in the fall.
Spring Campaign kicks off this weekend when Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne raise the curtain on what has traditionally been called "Opening Weekends."
Jasper Stuyven and Yves Lampaert battle the famous Muur van Geraardsbergen at the 2020 race
For loyal fans, Opening Weekend and especially Omloop Het Nieuwsblad marks the true start of the racing season. The race used to be called Omloop Het Volk, after the newspaper, but when that name was merged with another publication, Het Nieuwsblad, a new name was created for the 64th race.
The competition has been part of the WorldTour since 2017, and riders like Eddie Merckx, Freddie Martens and Johan Museuv have all felt victory in a race that began back in 1945.
The Belgian race takes place just 24 hours before Kuurnet-Brussels-Kuurnet and is arguably a more challenging encounter with more climbs and an overall more aggressive approach as teams aim to break the race down into short but steep series climbs that precede the finish. There are a total of 13 climbs or icebergs as they are known and 14 cobbled sectors, which means a lot of terrain for teams to split the peloton. Both this race and Kuurnet-Brussels-Kuurnet give baptisms by cold, wind and rain, but rarely disappoint.
If Greg Van Avermaet wins this year, he will be the fourth rider to win three titles, equal to the record of Peter Van Petegem, Joseph Bruyere and Ernest Sterks.
What happened in 2020?
Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) proved that his victory in Kuurna-Brussels-Kuurna in 2016 was no coincidence by convincing Yves Lampaert (Detsönink-QuickStep) to sprint two people. The pair were part of a winning movement that formed over 70 km before the duo broke away from the famous Muur van Gerardsbergen and only Soren Krag Andersen (Team Sunweb) was able to follow.
The Dane was thrown out before the finish line, but managed to stay in third place, despite a courageous pursuit from Matteo Trentin. Steven was too fast and too nimble for Lampaert in the finish line, and it looked like Trek-Segafredo finally got the one or two hits they were looking for with Steven and then-world champion Mads Pedersen.
The fact that Ian Stannard single-handedly destroyed the QuickStep trio of Tom Bunen, Nicky Terpstra and Stein Vandenberg in 2015 remains one of the best David vs. Goliath stories of the past decade, but Omlup, or Het Folk , as purists still call him, has always created a special aura with a sincere feeling - at least in Belgium - that the first weekend marks the true start of the cycling season. It is always cold and frosty, but the severity is balanced by the warmth of passionate admirers.