Keep the cobbled Classics coming

If there’s a better weekend for cycling fans than the one we just had I’m yet to be told about it.

Riding the route of a pro race one day and then watching the real event the next isn’t unique in the world of cycling but there’s something about the atmosphere in Flanders on the first weekend of April that is unrivalled anywhere else.

On Saturday morning I joined four colleagues to ride the 150km route of the Tour of Flanders sportive. We could have done the full route, but De Ronde is about the climbs, not the 100 flat kilometres before them.

Our ride was regularly interrupted by downpours, blocked roads (caused by so many cyclists) and technical mishaps, but it mattered not. Riding 14 of the 15 climbs of Flanders – and the sections of cobbles in between – is a great day out.

These roads are narrow, twisty, dirty and dangerous – but great fun to ride. And watching the pros race over them the following day makes it even more special.

And of course all this goes on just 200km from our shores, which is why it seemed like every other car driving back to Calais on Sunday night had bikes on
the back. Roll on Roubaix.

Simon Richardson is deputy editor of Cycling Weekly