The cobbled classics start this week with the E3 Prijs and conclude with the Paris-Roubaix on April 11th. These are all great races. It takes the utmost endurance, strength, skill, and confidence to win any of the hardman races. The brute force of each route combined with the weather make it daunting to ride much less race.
All bike racers are sado-masochists. The only way to win a long hard race, especially if you are going to win solo, is to wear out your competition. You have to attack when the other guys are suffering so much, that they can not even conceive of matching the effort. Cyclists have to be masochists because the only way to develop that strength is torture yourself in training so that you relish that pain. Sometimes in races, the one who can suffer the most wins. Longtime fans of bike racing recognize and appreciate this fact.
It is the level of suffering that makes the Ronde the greatest one day race. Sure, la Primavera is a beautiful race, Liege is the Queen of the Classics, and Roubaix is greatest of the cobbled races. But the intensity, the relentless & steep bergs, the narrow broken roads all make the Ronde the most brutal one day race. It is the only road race where riders frequently have to walk up climbs. It is the only race with its own museum.
Every boy who wants to be tough racer dreams of racing the Ronde.
I can't wait for Sunday!