The end of February is always an exciting time for cycling with the start of the Spring racing season in Europe after the warmer races in Australia and Middle East over our Southern Hemisphere summer.When I think of spring racing I think of the passion of the Belgians flying their region’s flags on the side of narrow cobbled roads cheering the likes of Peter Sagan, Tom Boonen, Greg Van Avermaet, Fabian Cancellara and our own Stuart O’Grady.
Beginning this weekend these long single day races begin with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, where we will see the form of the strong classics riders of the peloton, forecasting their success in the upcoming “Monuments” of cycling.
The ‘Monuments’ are a series of five one-day races including Milan-San Remo, Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and later in the year, Giro di Lombardia. Finishing these races is an achievement of its own, let alone winning them with only three riders in history winning all five – Roger De Vlaeminck, Rik Van Looy and Eddy Merckx.
I am especially excited in 2018 for our Mummu Cycling guests travelling with us to the Spring Classics, as they will be having a private drink and meeting with Eddie Merckx.
Quite frankly I am jealous as I will be back in Australia preparing for our European summer trips.
Battling the Conditions
One thing that makes the Spring Classics even more exciting is the unpredictability of the weather.
Over the years, even races as late as Liege-Bastogne-Liege have seen single digit temperatures, rain, mud and damaging crosswinds. Having said that the past three years have actually been very mild with dry temperatures for Flanders, Roubaix and even Milan-San Remo. Will this mean that 2018 will bring the conditions that the fans love but the riders hate?
In Australia we don’t quite appreciate the weather in Northern Europe at this time of year. I guess this is proven by the fact that we can’t even buy thermal shoe covers in our bike stores, needing to ship them in from Europe.
On our Spring Classics tour, we now provide all of our guests with long sleeve, thermal cycling jackets to combat the expected weather in Belgium, Northern France and the Netherlands.
What will the next few weeks offer up?
I was speaking with Mitchelton-SCOTT boss, Shayne Bannan just this week about their plans for the coming races and he, like many of the WorldTour teams are using the first few races of the Spring season as a warm up for the Monuments.
This will mean this weekend will offer up some fierce racing from the likes of BMC (Greg Van Avermaet) and Quick-Step Floors (Philippe Gilbert) with Peter Sagan a noticeable absentee.
We have a group of over 30 guests joining us from the end of March to not just see the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix Monuments live, but will also be trying their luck on the respective Sportives and riding through this mythical part of Europe with the likes of Stuart O’Grady, Frank Schleck, Scott Sunderland and Karsten Kroon as our exclusive ride guides. We may as well be in the peloton of the early 2000’s with these superstars by our side.
I know I am especially excited to be losing sleep over the next two months as I stay up until the early hours, watching some of the strongest riders in the world battle it out for the title of King of the Classics.
By Marcel Berger
Managing Director, Mummu Cycling and cycling tragic
Mummu Cycling has just released an incredible 5-day Ardennes tour from 2-6 April 2018, giving guests an opportunity to ride the roads of Belgium, Netherlands and Northern France whilst Stuart O’Grady gives us an insight into his world of cycling royalty. Not only do we ride almost 300km over 5 days we will also meet Eddy Merckx, ride with Frank Schleck, ride with Karsten Kroon, visit the Roubaix showers and meet the Mitchelton-SCOTT team days before Paris-Roubaix.
Head here to find out more about this incredible trip.