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 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.

Geraint Thomas

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’.

Ian Stannard

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.

Mark Cavendish

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.

Bradley Wiggins

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.


2 responses to “Four British riders for the Spring Classics”

  1. Main hopeful results for Thomas was that he won junior Paris-Roubaix ahead of Stannard (who apparently took wrong turn) in 2004. Also came in second on the cobbled stage of the TdF in 2010.

    Stannard had a great race in the last stage of the Eneco tour this year which was on a Tour of Flanders style course. He was caught and passed by eventual overall winner Stybar, but valiant second. Love watching him, but would be great if he could turn strength and valour into wins; more race nous and more sprint needed i guess. Incidentally, not sure if he’s signed a new contract with Sky yet; maybe he’s had his head turned with offer of more freedom, less workhorse?

    With Wiggo, I can see the idea that as super time-triallist, could’nt he do what Cancellara does at Roubaix. Frankly, better not rain though!

    1. Stannard is kind of Cancellara-ish in how he has to win races – he normally has to drop everyone before the finish. He’s not far off, but that last little bit can be the hardest and is generally what separates the team leaders from the domestiques. I’d be surprised if he left Sky. He’s allowed to race all the Spring Classics to win and then he’d never be doing anything other than the workhorse job in a Grand Tour. He’s simply too massive.

      Where Wiggo suffers in comparison with Cancellara is that his time trialling can match the Swiss only due to efficiency and aerodynamics. Not sure he has quite the same power. But again, we’re talking small margins and he’s an incredibly adaptable sportsman.

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