Four British riders for the Spring Classics
I make no apologies for the Brit-centric nature of this website. I have milk in my tea and it’s a .co.uk domain name. You can’t argue with unshakeable truths such as those. Today’s article therefore takes a look at the handful of riders who will be carrying Britain’s fairly slim hopes in the 2014 Spring Classics.
You know him as a double Olympic gold medallist and Grand Tour workhorse, but on the road his main focus is the Spring Classics – where he’s not actually had a huge amount of success. He managed 10th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen in 2011, which is very respectable, but his best result last season was probably fourth in E3 Harelbeke. In most races, he crashed or simply fell off. He is a strong classics rider in theory. Cycling hands out prizes for pretty much anything, but not currently for ‘in theory’.
King of the Grand Tour donkey work, Stannard probably represents Britain’s best hope in the early part of the season. Weighing in at around 83kg, he isn’t much of a climber, but by God he’s got oomph (hope I’m not alienating you with the cycling jargon here). At 26, he seems to be an improving rider and his sixth place in last year’s Milan-San Remo was a brave and powerful ride in which he almost shed everyone for the win. But not quite, obviously. He came sixth – I’ve already said that.
Cavendish is actually the only Brit to win a Monument in recent years, taking Milan-San Remo in 2009. Unfortunately for him, they’ve made the closing kilometres of that race a bit hillier and he’s unlikely to challenge this year. However, he often picks up one of the flatter, less significant Spring Classics if there’s a sprint finish. He’s a surprisingly adaptable rider.
You never really know what Wiggo’s likely to do, but there are two Spring Classics in which he could feature. They’re rather different in character, which is indicative of what an oddly changeable rider he is. Liege-Bastogne-Liege was something he was talking about a year or so ago, back when he was lighter. That’s the hilliest classic, but he’s also talked about giving Paris-Roubaix a go. That’s basically flat and usually rewards the big muscly riders. Now that he appears to be concentrating on time trials – and subsequently the track – Wiggins is actually the kind of relentless-power-meister who could conceivably compete. He’ll almost certainly enter neither race.
Adam and Simon Yates seem suited to the short hills of the Ardennes Classics, if not the cobbles, but they’re young and new and I don’t know what races they’ll feature in this year. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke was thought to be a similar sort of rider, but he’s still out awaiting some sort of resolution of the issues with his blood passport.