More than 40 years of experience in the sport of cycling; 18 years as a professional; 350,000km traveled in all possible and imaginable conditions; more than 150 victories in some 1500 races: President and Founder of Argon 18 and former professional cyclist Gervais Rioux knows what it takes to make bikes that overcome all obstacles on their path.
Modern, yet traditional bikes — ideal for the great Spring Classics.
Photo: Gervais Rioux | Professional Cyclist
WHAT ARE THE CLASSICS?
Marked by their degree of difficulty, conditions, climate, prestige, distances and history, the cycling Classics are one-day races recognized as some of the most impetuous races on the professional calendar.
Spectacular and intense, the Classics are measured by their ephemeral nature: it is all or nothing, no chance to for the next day, no reason to save the legs for tomorrow. Riders must seize the opportunity on that day, when the grit and pace turns up or leave empty-handed. The pace is fast from the first village, and teams will assemble their premier rosters for these epic battles each season. Factor in a strong pacer, the breakaway star, a closing sprinter and of course, you premier all-arounder, who has the legs to hand the punchy climbs and the stamina to last for the 200km plus distance.
Held in the springtime, the Classics offer harsh climatic conditions: rain, mud and strong winds along with historical routes of impractical cobbled streets, rolling undulating, never complacent roads and rugged edges. These are not races for the faint-hearted. Throw in the cycling fans spreading themselves and their love of two-wheeled racing along these routes, with face painted, legendary horns, and now you have an understanding of the legendary Classics.
“The biggest difference between a one-day race and a stage race is the stakes,” explains Gervais. “One-day races are often where ‘punchers’ are the most successful. They are often riders with larger bodies, who are not necessarily the best in stage races. On the other hand, riders who perform better in stage races are often more slender and light. Historically, the Belgians and the Dutch have made a name for themselves in the Classics, although they don’t win them all, while the French, Italians and Spaniards are better at stage races.”
TOUR OF FLANDERS AND THE HELL OF THE NORTH
“In my opinion, Paris-Roubaix is in a class all its own, apart from all the other races. We don’t call it the ‘Queen of the Classics’ or the ‘Hell of the North’ for nothing. It’s the most difficult race: the cobbles, the narrow roads… You have to remain balanced on the bike, and it’s physically and mentally tough. The longest paved section is 3.3km, but it seems like an eternity! It's a brawler. It’s also a very tactical race. And the cars that go by. The dust. It's literally hell broke loose!”
“As for the Tour of Flanders, it’s a particularly interesting race for the atmosphere. The riders go over the same spot several times, and the proximity of the crowd creates a boosted atmosphere. It’s exceptional.”
…AND THE MONUMENTS
1. Milan-San Remo
“It’s the first of the season, characterized by the longest distance and its difficult finish, with the famous climb of the Poggio. For sprinters and riders.”
2. Tour of Flanders
“Famous for its cobblestones, its steep ascents and its festive atmosphere (spectators, beers and fries). For punchers and rouleurs.”
“The most difficult cobble sections in the world. A mythical race… For rouleurs and punchers.”
“Rouleurs and climbers can be successful there, but it’s definitely a Classic for punchers.”
5. Tour of Lombardia
“For climbers, it’s the most difficult race in terms of course and elevation differences.”
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Astana Pro Team’s bike for the Classics
Argon 18 | Gallium Pro | © Bettiniphoto.net