Cycling is not just a sport. It is a way of life, a unique experience, and a way to be an athlete with very powerful legs. Millions of people around the world practice this sport, competing in the local races and the more prestigious ones, instead of wasting time fishing, arguing with strangers online, or visiting sites like Ladbrokes. So, what are the most coveted races to participate in? Here is our humble list.
On this list, you will find bicycle races that span over stages and days, with several different disciplines and events. Paris-Roubaix, however, is not such a race. It is a one-day event in France that barely scratches the border with Belgium. It is one of the oldest races and one of the so-called Monuments. If you perform well, your ranking in UCI will see a significant increase.
The path is made of cobblestone and demands some serious tweaking of the cycles. The race is so demanding that many cyclists choose to forego the spike in points, fearing the damage to their bicycles and bodies the track might cause. The track is looked after by a group of fans that was formed in the 80s, names the Friends of Paris-Roubaix.
The Tour of Italy is not for the faint of heart. Since 1909, cyclists compete in several stages, and the participants have to be members of the UCI WorldTeams, with the possible exception of a few lucky ducks who get to join as the wild cards. It is one of the three Grand Tours (the other two will also be discussed in this piece) and it lasts for three weeks.
The interesting thing about this tour is that it has been held every year since its inception, though there were a few breaks for the two World Wars. The winner of the Giro gets to wear the special pink jersey as a testament to their achievement. The race was originally a marketing stunt by La Gazzetta dello Sport and now it is organized by RCS Sport, their subsidiary.
Vuelta a España
Another Grand Tour, Vuelta a España, came about as an answer to Giro d’Italia and Tour de France. There are at least two time trials and riding over a mountain chain. As Giro has the pink jersey, the red jersey is awarded to the racer with the lowest aggregate time. Another similarity with Giro is that UCI WorldTeams are the ones allowed to participate.
The race was strongly dominated by the Spanish in the 2000s, though the Britons have had much success in recent years. The race changes courses yearly, to keep things fresh and add an extra note of challenge to the mix.
Tour de France
If you have not heard of Tour de France, it’s high time you did. This is the third Grand Tour and, arguably, the best-known one. Multiple stages of the race are held over three weeks in France, and different races demand different cycles. The yellow jersey is the coveted prize in this event that has been held over a hundred times since its creation.