Wondering what to do now the cobbled Classics are over for another year? Here are some suggestions to soften the blow
Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) cast off his label as the nearly-man with victory in the 115th edition of Paris-Roubaix, beating Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors) and Sebastian Langeveld (Cannondale-Drapac) in a five-man sprint for the line.
That win came a week after Van Avermaet finished second in the Tour of Flanders after crashing with Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), while Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) took a spectacular solo victory.
For many people, Paris-Roubaix marks the end of the best period of racing of the year, leaving a void that can only with these five suggestions on how to fill your time.
1. Get out on your bike
If, like me, you watched Paris-Roubaix from start to finish on Sunday – all six glorious hours of it – you may not have had time for that overdue century ride.
With the clocks having sprung forward and the coverage of the cobbled Classics behind us, there are even more hours to actually ride a bike rather than just watch other people doing it (at speeds you can only dream of).
Perhaps now is the time to explore new routes, increase your monthly mileage or simply get some miles in on your best bike.
2. Watch the upcoming Ardennes Classics
The cobbled Classics aren’t the only races this spring, although it probably feels that way when you remember that urban climbs through industrial areas of Liège really don’t quite have the romanticism of the Paterberg or Trouée d’Arenberg.
Never mind, the triptych of the Ardennes Classics is about the kick-off starting with the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday April 16.
This is swiftly followed by Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday April 19 and Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday April 23.
Philippe Gilbert won all three races in his stellar 2011 season, and no one has achieved this feat in the four years since. Could someone take the hat trick 2017?
3. Think ahead to next year’s cobbled Classics
Ok, we’re thinking a bit further ahead here, but next year’s cobbled Classics already look like an exciting prospect.
With Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen having retired in consecutive year, there’s a gap in the market for a king of the cobbles, which Greg Van Avermaet looks poised to fill.
Over six cobbled races this spring, Van Avermaet has won four, and finished second and seventh in the other two (the Tour of Flanders and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne), an astonishing run of results.
But if he’s to really become a new Belgian hero, then he’ll have to win a few more editions of Paris-Roubaix and take the Tour of Flanders, which should prove a real test in 12 months time.
4. Relive the action
Perhaps not a healthy approach in the long run, but split up between riding your own bike and dreaming of a British 1-2 on the podiums of Flanders and Roubaix next year, this should see you out until the Giro d’Italia starts. A small consolation, I know.
5. Plan your next training camp
If you’ve been inspired to get out on your bike by the professional action this spring, but have found your fitness wanting from too many afternoons spent sat in front of Eurosport rather than doing any pedalling yourself, then maybe it’s time to kickstart your season’s training with a nice, sunny training camp.
The good news is that we’ve got a few tips on how to make the most of your training camp experience, all the way from choosing a location to your individual days on the bike.