The spring classics are always a great start to the pro racing season. It's when the big, strong racers have chances at glory. It's exciting to watch the racers put everything on the line in a single day of racing vs grinding it out through the duration of a stage race. Here's what I found notable in the 2016 classics season (all photos courtesy of Cycling Tips):
Arnold Demare of FDJ took the win at Milan San-Remo, and it ended up being controversial because he was accused of holding on to a car to get back to the peloton after a crash. He shared his Strava file which people still said it was possible that he got a tow though he was pedaling. Regardless, I was happy to see a frenchman win a classics race!
Kwiatkowski and Sagan broke away and held a small lead all the way to the line - it was so exciting! Kwiatkowski proved to be stronger and beat Sagan to the line. While I'm a fan of Kwiatkowski and was happy to see him win, I was a little sad for Sagan, that he always get 2nd place and that the curse of the rainbow jersey seemed to have fallen upon him.
But I shouldn't have worried! Sagan broke the curse of the rainbow jersey with a win. Again the win came from a 4 man breakaway. They got away with about 30km remaining, and worked hard to extend their advantage until about 2km to go when they began to race for good position into the final sprint. Cancellara was in the break as well, but finished 4th.
Tour of Flanders
Sagan was on fire! He soloed away to his second classics win at the Tour of Flanders with an awesome display of strength, riding the final 10km solo.
What an exciting edition of this race! 5 racers came into the velodrome together after attacking one another in the kilometers previously. Boonen was in the bunch going for his 5th Paris-Roubaix win, which would have been a new record. Mat Hayman won the day however. While I was happy for him, I was somewhat saddened and surprised that Boonen didn't have that little extra something to take the win.
Alejandro Valverde convincingly won the Flèche Walloons again, which is a record of 4 wins. This also marked the start of the hilly classics races, which are always quite exciting. Seeing these racers fly up the super steep short hills is always so impressive.
Ugh, what an exciting finish! Enrico Gasparotto attacked and Michael Valgren of Tinkoff came with him, and they were able to stay ahead of the peloton to the line. Valgren did most of the work (I'm not really sure why) and Gasparotto was able to beat him at the line.
Wout Poels took the win in the terrible weather conditions, beating some big names like Samuel Sanchez at the line. It was an exciting win, and the first classics win for team Sky. With that, the classics season came to a close.
I thought all in all it was a good classics season to watch, with plenty of the expected favorites getting some well fought wins, and some surprises from lesser known racers. While it is always exciting to watch the classics, by the end I'm always ready for the grand tours to begin!