Ardennes Classics

The Ardennes Classics is the collective term for three one-day races held in mid-April over the course of 8 days in the Ardennes region of the Low Countries.

They begin with the Amstel Gold Race, which takes place in the Limburg region of the Netherlands and is a relative newcomer to the professional race scene having only been founded in 1966. It is sponsored by the famous Dutch brewery.

It is followed by La Flèche Wallonne which is held in the French speaking Walloon area of southern Belgium. First held in 1936, the Walloon Arrow is traditionally staged mid-week between the Amstel Gold and the last of the three Ardennes Classics, Liège–Bastogne–Liège. First held in 1892, Liège–Bastogne–Liège is known as La Doyenne - the oldest Classic - and is also one of the five famous Monuments of professional cycling.

The Ardennes is a region characterised by rolling hills, steep ridges and extensive forests and the three races favour the breed of cyclist known as a puncheur - a rider whose physical attributes allow him/her to break away from the peloton on the short, sharp and frequent climbs which are such a distinctive feature of the Ardennes Classics, Liège–Bastogne–Liège in particular.

The Belgian cyclist Philippe Gilbert is the classic example of a puncheur - a fact underlined in 2011 when he claimed all three of the Ardennes Classics, a magnificent feat that has only been achieved once before in 2001, by the Italian rider Davide Rebellin.

 

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