Competitive cycling has really taken off in the past few decades. Cycling is now one of the most popular sports in the United Kingdom.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland has managed to produce some of the best competitive cyclists in the whole world. They have managed to excel in some of the biggest cycling events in the world. The UCI World Tour includes a number of fantastic events, including those mentioned below:
Tour de France
The Tour de France is a multi-stage race which is spread over the course of 3 weeks. Although the majority of the race takes place on French soil, the Tour occasionally has legs that take place in international locations, including a stage which took place in Yorkshire in 2014. The 21 stages are designed to test different cycling skills, so it is designed for all-round competitors.
Stages are normally classified as mass-start stages, individual time trials or team time trials. Riders also compete for classifications which are denoted by a specific jersey. The leader in each classification is given a distinct jersey to wear. The most important of these is the general classification (yellow jersey). A green jersey is given for those leading the points classification (sprints) and a polka dot jersey is given to the person leading the mountain classification. The Tour de France is considered to be the most prestigious of all of the stage races.
The Giro d’Italia is another of the three week European Grand Tours. It operates in a similar fashion to the Tour de France, with riders competing for individual and team classifications. This competition also includes a Combativity classification, where riders gain points for their position at certain intermediate points during each leg, including mountain passes and intermediate leg sprints.
Vuelta a España
The Vuelta is the third of the Grand Tour races. This race takes place primarily in Spain. It has grown since inception and now covers 21 day stages and 2 rest day periods.
Each race includes flat and mountain sections, and the race finishes in Madrid every year. The leader in the standard classification of the Vuelta wears a red jersey, as opposed to the famous yellow jersey which is worn in the Tour de France. Other classifications tend to wear similar jersey colours to those which are worn in the Tour de France.
Tour Down Under
The Tour Down Under was the first cycle race outside of Europe to secure ProTour status. Due to the Australian climate, this is often the first competition in the UCI World Tour calendar. Although it is a stage race, it does not continue for as many days as the traditional Grand Tours. Many riders who excel in the European tours have struggled to compete in this event because it often involves riding in extreme heat.
The 2017 edition of the race was made up of 6 road cycling stages. Local fans have a tradition of choosing an “Obscure Pro” to support during the race. The nominated rider tends to be a relatively unknown domestique from a large team. The Obscure Pro is given celebrity status throughout the Tour Down Under.
The BinckBank Tour (named after its major sponsor) was previously known as the ENECO Tour. Due to factors relating to terrain and difficulty levels, the Tour of the Netherlands could not be included in the UCI Tour schedule. Organisers sought to combine multiple events to create a tougher course which might meet UCL standards. This multi-stage race now contains stages around the Benelux area. There are four classifications in the race; general classification, points classification, combativity classification and team classification.
Great Ocean Roads Race
This is a one day road event which takes place along the coastal Great Ocean Road in Australia. The Great Ocean Road is considered to be one of the most picturesque coastal cycle routes in the world. Although the event has only been running for 3 years so far, the beautiful ride has already established itself as a firm World Tour favourite. The races suits puncheur riders, who enjoy rolling terrain with plenty of short, steep climbs. Many team riders who normally work as domestiques in Grand Tour races are given the opportunity to shine and accrue team points in this type of race.
Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal
The Grand Prix is a one day road race event which requires riders to complete multiple laps of a road race circuit. Each lap of the circuit is around 12 km long and includes 3 climb components. The race covers over 200km with a cumulative climb of over 4000 metres. A version of the circuit used was also used in the 1976 Summer Olympics.
Milan – San Remo
The Milan San Remo race is alternatively known as “The Spring Classic” or “La Classicissima”. Covering 298km, it is currently counted as the longest one-day professional cycling race in the world. The races normally takes place early on in the UCI World Tour season, and is considered to be a very difficult feat of endurance for any riders who are not at their peak of physical fitness. The race was first held in 1907 and is now referred to as one of the five Monuments of cycling. It is considered to be a sprinters’ race, because the course is mainly flat. The race travels through a number of fashionable seaside resorts on the Italian Riviera and along some very scenic coastal roads.