The Northern Classics Guide, Part 2: into the Ardennes
Five down, three to go in the 2021 Northern Classics calendar. It hasn't been plain sailing for the favourites who were caught out and marked out by other teams. Wout Van Aert claimed victory at Ghent Wevelgem, but it was Kasper Asgreen who won E3 and then the Tour of Flanders, stopping Matthieu Van der Poel from stamping his mark on the cobbles.
Paris-Roubaix has been postponed until October. The next stop for the pro caravan is the Ardennes of Belgian Wallonia and Dutch Limburg, and a set of three races, which provide an opportunity for the pure climbers to take victory. Here's everything you need to know about Amstel Gold, Flèche-Walloonne and Leige-Bastogne-Leige.
La Doyenne, the final classic of the calendar. The route was changed in 2019 and no longer finishes with a climb in Ans. Instead, there is a flat sprint into Liege. The race is the hilliest of the Ardenne trio, racking up over 4,500 metres of climbing. In the final 50km there is the 1.6km long, 8.1% average Côte de Desnié, slotted in ahead of the famous Côte de la Redoute.
Who does it suit?
La Redoute is an awkward climb because the gradient changes so frequently. Local favourite, Phil Gilbert, hasn't been seen so much this season, but expect to see the road painted with his name nevertheless. Primož Roglič was on flying form in Paris-Nice. Max Schachmann finished in the top five of the Ardennes classics in 2019. Gold helmet-wearing Greg Van Avermaet has made the top five in several classics races this season. Our fingers are crossed that former Saturday boy, Tao Geoghegan Hart, lines up to race, too.
- Tags: Racing