Gent-Wevelgem is the sprinters’ classic of the 2.5 weeks long cobblestones season. The event was first run in 1934, and 2013 will be its 75th edition. The race was positioned between Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix on Wednesdays, but in 2010 the race shifted to Sunday, the weekend before the Ronde.
Five riders in total, 4 of them Belgian, share the record of most wins with 3 victories each; Robert Van Eenaeme, Rik Van Looy, Eddy Merckx, Tom Boonen and Mario Cippollini. Besides Boonen’s double in 2001 and 2002, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Bernhard Eisel and Oscar Freire were able to win this prestigious classic more recently.
Milan-San Remo, the 298 km single stage race, the first monument of the cycling calendar will be held on 17 March, Sunday this year. It will be 104. edition of “la Classica di Primavera” – the spring classic with its first edition dating all the way back to 1907.
It is a sprinters’ classic, but an endurance race rather than a gallop sprint within bunch. Some great cyclists won the race including the legendary Eddy Merckx (7 times), Costante Girardengo (6), Gino Bartali and Erik Zabel 4 times each. More recently, both pure sprinters like Mark Cavendish, Matthew Goss and Oscar Freire (3 wins) or puncheurs like Fabian Cancellara or Simon Gerrans won the race.
Despite failing to draw enough attention this year from the TdF contenders (most of them will be in Tirreno-Adriatico instead), Paris-Nice, a 2.HC race in UCI Wold Tour is always considered as a stepping stone before the TdF. “‘If I can win Paris-Nice, I can win the Tour de France’”, said Bradley Wiggins to the media in 2012, after defending his yellow jersey in the uphill time-trial event in Col d’Èze. The same stage will as well be the final stage of this year’s race.
Paris-Nice past winners include Sean Kelly (7), Jacques Anquetil (5), Eddy Merckx (3) and Laurent Jalabert (3). Most recently Alexandre Vinokourov (2), Alberto Contador (2) and Tony Martin claimed the yellow jersey in this season-opener dating back to 1933.