Pro races to watch on a weekend in 2018
For many, traveling ahead of the Tour de France over three weeks, watching the trials and tribulations through the mountains and experiencing the highs and lows would be the dream. Jetting across the world to watch the pros kick chunks out of each other in the Tour Down Under may be enticing but the reality is taking three weeks off work, or convincing your other half and family that taking this amount of time out to watch a bike race is a good idea might be a bit of an uphill struggle.
Thankfully you do not need to drop everything and book a long haul flight to get your pro cycle race fix. We have put together our top five 2018 races that won’t take any more than a weekend to watch.
A classic in more than one sense of the word. Raced in the heart of Belgium, Gent Wevelgem takes in some of cycling’s most famed cobbled sections and climbs, including the Kemmelberg, and over the years has produced some scintillating racing. From the Cannibal, Eddy Merckx, winning 3 editions through the 60’s and 70’s, to more recently Peter Sagan stamping his authority in 2016.
For those looking to head over the channel to get their classics fix, the 24th and 25th March is a good weekend to choose. With the Gent Wevelgem Cyclosportive taking place on the Saturday and then the women’s and men’s races being run on the Sunday.
The Tour of Britain
Although the official race route will not be announced until spring, it is well worth getting the first week of September into your diary. Growing in popularity and producing improved fields year on year, the Tour of Britain is an eight stage race which traverses the length of the country. Due to its length and the diversity of the route, you are sure to find a stage within easy reach to get to. Attracting some of the world’s best riders, Britain’s biggest cycle race is seen by many now as the ideal preparation for the World Road Race Championships. With punchy stages, taking in some of the country’s best roads and most famed climbs, this is one race that should be on your bucket list.
Yates stamps his authority in Haytor
The Arenberg Forest, the Carrefour de Arbe, the Roubaix Velodrome, as iconic races go they do not get much more iconic than Paris Roubaix. Taking place in early April, this 257 kilometre cobbled monster traverses northern France and puts spectators in the heart of the action, as the best classics riders charge across the 29 sectors. Parking up along the route is simple and with Calais being only 120 kilometres from Roubaix, there is no excuse not to pack up the car and head over to watch one of the cycling calendar’s most thrilling races.
A front row seat on the cobbles
The Tour Series
Standing at the side of the road for 4 hours, only to see a diminished peloton freewheel past not appeal? For those looking for plenty of ‘bang for their buck’, the Tour Series is the ideal race. Made up of ten rounds, this criterium series sees Britain’s best domestic pros charge round a tight, technical city centre. The races are each an hour in length and unlike traditional criteriums are a team competition, with teams of 5 competing for the honours on the night, with the top 4 riders places going towards the overall Tour Series crown.
2017 saw the introduction of a number of races over weekends and although the 2018 dates have not been released yet, we are hopefully the series will feature further weekend racing this time round.
Tom Pidcock shows the pros how it's done
The Final Stage of the Tour de France
Although the yellow jersey is all but signed, sealed and ready for the top step of the podium, the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris is a must see race for any cycling fan. Steeped in history, this is the sprinter’s equivalent to the world championships, with what many describe as the perfect finishing straight. Sprint sensations such as Robbie McEwen and more recently Mark Cavendish have lit up the cobbled finish, taking memorable wins. With the peloton tackling the Champs Elysees loop 8 times, there are plenty of opportunities to see your favourite riders and even get a glimpse of the yellow jersey wearer.
The Manx Missile strikes
With a wide selection of races that can be reached in anything from an afternoon to a weekend, there’s no excuse not to watch your favourite races this year.