Cycling Trivia: The Cobbled Classics!

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With the completion of the early season stage races, Classics Season began with Italy’s Milan-San Remo in mid-March. The focus of the cycling world then turns to Belgium and France in April for the Cobbled Classics. The three primary events in this period, now held over two weeks but once held over eight days (known by the Flemish as Holy Week) are Ghent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix. The latter two are held in greatest esteem, one could even say reverence, by cycling fans, historians, and riders. They are two of the five Monuments in the sport of cycling.

Dave Campbell (right) in Scotland at the 2023 Worlds with “The Lion of Flanders”, a true king of the cobbles: 3x Tour of Flanders winner and 3x Paris Roubaix winner Johan Museeuw! Photo by Dave Campbell

Cobblestone climbs (bergs) feature in the two Belgian events while the “pavé” sections in the French event are flat but longer and much rougher. The wind and rain of the Northern European spring are another key element faced by the riders and a detailed knowledge of the course is key to victory. Unlike lithe climbers and stage racers, the Kings of the Cobbles tend to be bigger and more muscular. Let’s test your knowledge of the some of the greatest cobblestone riders of all time!

Q1. American Greg Lemond, once said it took him five years just to figure out how to ride the cobbled classics, as the Belgians had grown up riding on these roads and knew every twist and turn. What were Lemond’s best results in Holy Week?

Q2. Only one American has won a cobbled classic. Can you name the rider, event, and year?

Q3. Belgian Wout Van Aert is seemingly made to ride the cobbles and is focusing intensely on this years Flanders and Roubaix, forgoing some of the other classics in his pursuit of glory on the pave. Who is the last rider to claim both Flanders and Roubaix in the same year? Perhaps, more importantly for Wout, who was the last Belgian?

Q4. Ghent-Wevelgem has been held on the Sunday between Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders since 2011, but prior to that was held on the Wednesday between Flanders and Roubaix forming an eight day “Holy Week”. Precious few riders targeted all three and the mid-week Ghent was often the race that was skipped or ridden for training. Nonetheless, “Holy Week” holds a special place in the heart of the Belgians, in particular the Flandriens and victory in all three in the same season would be an achievement of epic proportions. Has anyone ever done it?

Q5. Four wins in any one cobbled classic is a bit like five Tour de France wins, a summit few have achieved. In fact, only two riders have, both Belgian and both did it at the same event. Who are these greatest of champions?

Answers on the next page.

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