The typical beginning of the road cycling season, the Spring Classics include some of the most iconic day races in the cycling calendar.
The Spring Classics are a collection of fourteen major one-day races which kick off the road cycling calendar, beginning in February and ending in April each year.
Some races are more prestigious than others, but most attract some of the biggest names in men’s cycling to the start list.
The cycling spring Classics contain some of the most challenging one-day races you could ride on a road bike.
But what races are considered Spring Classics? Which are the most prestigious? And what’s the schedule for the 2023 Spring Classics?
In this guide, we’ll be covering:
- What Are The Cycling Spring Classics?
- The Spring Classics Of Modern Cycling
Let’s get started!
What are the Cycling spring classics?
The spring Classics are the first events in the men’s road cycling calendar each season.
They are a set of fourteen European day races, most of which take place in Belgium. Some races also happen in Italy, France, and The Netherlands.
They include some of the most historically important races in road cycling, some of which even predate the Tour de France.
Great effort is taken to preserve the character of many of these races, which considering the state of the roads back in the early 20th century, makes for unique and extremely challenging courses, even for professionals.
Not every rider will enter all of the spring Classics.
Those who compete in all of them might be considered Classics specialists, looking to pick up as many wins as possible in these historic races. Others, perhaps riders who primarily focus on the Grand Tours, might only take part in a select few, and use the period almost like a form of competitive training.
Many of the spring Classics are steeped in history and prestige, but not all Classics are created equal.
For a long time, the Classics consisted of just eight day-races, many of which had been continuously running since the birth of road cycling in the late 19th century.
However, starting in the ’60s, three of the eight Classics had their courses changed, or even ceased to exist altogether, and many other races began calling themselves “Classics”.
The five survivors from the original eight Classics became the “Monuments” of cycling, thereby differentiating themselves from the newer, less prestigious Classics.
The Monuments are:
All but the Giro di Lombardia take place in the spring, making them the highest-regarded of the Spring Classics.
Although some of these races are more prestigious than others, all of them are still revered and are always extremely exciting events, for spectators and riders alike.
The Classics continue after the Grand Tours in summer but these are not considered Spring Classics, since they take place in autumn. The most famous of these is Il Giro di Lombardia, “The Race of the Falling Leaves”.
The spring classics of modern cycling
With all of the aforementioned changes to the Classics throughout the past few decades, you might be wondering which races are considered Spring Classics in modern cycling.
Here is a brief overview of each of the cycling Spring Classics, and when to catch them in 2023.
Note that although other races are sometimes referred to as Classics, these are the Spring Classics included within the 2023 UCI World Tour.
Omloop Het Nieuwsbald
The opening race in the spring Classics season, the Omloop Het Nieuwsbald is a 200km route through the hilly Flemish Ardennes, starting in Ghent, Belgium, and ending in Ninove, Belgium.
The 2023 Omloop will be held on the 25th of February.
Held just 24 hours after the Omloop, the Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne is another of the Spring Classics, completing the opening weekend.
Strangely, the route never actually reaches Brussels. Beginning in Kuurne, the riders head towards Brussels but turn back towards Kuurne some 23 km west of the Belgian capital. The loop is 200 km and passes through the Ardennes.
The Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne 2023 will take place on the 26th February.
One of the newest spring Classics, the Strade Bianche starts and ends in Siena, Italy, and traverses 185 km through the Tuscan hills.
Strade Bianche literally translates to ‘White Roads’ and gets its name due to the fact that over a third of the route is spent grinding over the white gravel roads of Crete Senesi in Tuscany.
Watch out for the Strade Bianche 2023 on the 4th of March.
The longest professional day race in modern cycling, the Milan-San Remo is often referred to as “La Classicissima” and is one of the most iconic of the spring Classics.
It’s one of the five Monuments of cycling and has run continuously since 1907. Beginning in Milan, Italy, the participants ride almost 300 km to the town of San Remo.
The Milan-San Remo 2023 will be on the 18th of March.
E3 Saxo bank Classic
The E3 Saxo Bank marks the beginning of “Flanders Week” and is one of the cobbled classics.
Starting and ending in Harelbeke, the route is over 200 km. With a considerable amount of cobbled Ardennian climbs, it’s certainly not an easy race. Sharing much of its route with the Tour of Flanders, the Belgian media have dubbed this race “The Little Tour of Flanders”.
You can catch the E3 Saxo Bank 2023 on the 24th of March.
The Gent-Wevelgem is another spring Classic held in Flanders, starting in Deinze, and ending in Wevelgem.
Unlike many of the Flanders spring Classics, which tend to focus on climbing in the Flemish Ardennes, the Gent-Wevelgem heads into Western Flanders and Northern France, following a flatter 250 km route.
The Gent-Wevelgem 2023 will take place on the 26th of March.
Dwars Door Vlaanderen
Yet another through the Flemish Ardennes, the Dwars Door Vlaanderen (Across Flanders) is a 180km race from Roeselare to Waregem.
Since it begins in West Flanders, the first 80 km is fairly fat, but the race soon progresses into the intensely hilly East Flanders, resulting in another course very well suited to puncheurs.
Watch out for the Dwars Door Vlaanderen 2023 on the 29th of March.
Tour Of Flanders
The final race of “Flanders Week”, the Tour of Flanders is by far the most prestigious of the four and is one of the five Monuments.
This is a rather long 265 km race starting in Antwerp, Belgium, and finishing in Paterberg. The route makes three separate loops around the hills of the Flemish Ardennes, making it one of the hilliest of the Spring Classics.
The Tour of Flanders 2023 will be held on the 2nd of April.
Scheldeprijs is a 130 km Spring Classic that begins in Terneuzen, Netherlands, and ends in Schoten, Belgium.
The only one-day classic to start and end in a different country, Scheldeprijs explores the Dutch region of Zeeland before heading into Flanders, Belgium. It is ideally suited to sprinters, due to the low elevation gain of the route.
You can see the Scheldeprijs 2023 on the 5th of April.
Amstel Gold Race
The Amstel Gold Race is held in the region of Limburg, The Netherlands.
Bizarrely, even though most of The Netherlands is known for being flat, the hilly southern region of Limburg is littered with steep climbs, or “bergs”, making it perfect for the puncheurs of the bunch.
The route has changed frequently but is generally over 250 km, and usually covers 30+ bergs.
The 2023 Amstel Gold Race will take place on 9th April.
Yet another Flanders Classic, the Brabantse Pijl is a race through the Flemish Brabant, starting in Leuven and ending in Overijse.
It’s not the longest of the spring Classics, at around 200 km, with not-so-many bergs for a Flanders race. However, it certainly isn’t short on the cobbles and still makes for a challenging ride.
The Brabantse Pijl 2023 will be on the 12th of April.
One of the most infamous races in cycling, Paris-Roubaix is not-so-affectionately nicknamed “The Hell Of The North” due to the extremely high amount of the course that is ridden on cobbles.
Also known as the “Queen of Classics”, the Paris-Roubaix begins in Compiègne, traveling 260 km with over 50 km of cobbles before arriving in Roubaix.
Catch the Paris-Roubaix 2023 on 16th April.
La Flèche Wallonne
One of the Ardennes Classics, La Flèche Wallonne is a day race around the Belgian region of Wallonia.
Beginning in Blegny, Belgium, the course is usually around 200 km, with plenty of bergs (as is characteristic of a day race in the Flemish Ardennes) before ending in Huy, Belgium.
The Flèche Wallonne 2023 will be held on 19th April.
The oldest continuously running race in men’s cycling, the Liège–Bastogne–Liège, or La Doyenne (The Old Lady), is one of the five Monuments of cycling.
This is the last race in the spring Classics calendar, and is around 250 km, starting and ending, unsurprisingly, in Liège.
It is a notoriously challenging race with a lot of climbing, capping off the spring Classics season with an exciting show for spectators!
You can catch the Liège–Bastogne–Liège 2023 on 23rd April.
Now you know the spring classics…
You can choose which ones interest you most, and catch the exciting event in 2023! Perhaps you could even go to the race live and make a holiday of it!
For cycling fans who usually just watch the Grand Tours, the Spring Classics are not only a good way of extending your cycling spectating but give you a chance to see the form of your favorite riders going into summer.
And for the cyclists themselves, the Classics represent a chance for prestigious victories that can define a career – especially for riders whose skillsets aren’t suited to a shot in the General Classification at a Grand Tour.