Once the Spring Classics are over, bike racing fans revel in the Grand Tour calendar—featuring the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, and La Vuelta (the Tour of Spain). Each event is a sports frenzy from start to finish; they never fail to spark heated discussions with fans and friends, competitive fantasy team pools, and maybe even a spot of betting. But everything must come to an end, and (depending on the result) we often suffer a kind of hangover at the end of each of these incredible bike-racing shows.
No more excitement towards the end of the day as you sit in the train trying to find the video of the day’s stage on your smartphone. No more daily interviews with heroes such as Tom Dumoulin. No more daily roundup. No more discussions about cycling during the morning coffee at work. We have to accept that the Giro is over…
Yet be not dismayed! There are still plenty of other spectacles to come during the 2018 season. Even though the Giro is perhaps one of the most beautiful races in the season, there’ll be a lot more to see. Below are some other races to look forward to:
Critérium du Dauphiné
3 – 10 June
It’s just started—as always, this stage race takes place between the Giro and the Tour. While the Tour de France is known the world over as the Tour of all Grand Tours, the Critérium du Dauphiné is often an interesting barometer for what we might be able to expect during the Tour.
A large number of riders use the Dauphiné as a warm-up for the Tour. Despite the fact that it’s not a true indicator of what’s going to happen in the Tour, we fans often try to get an idea of what the riders’ fitness levels are—particularly among the serious GC contenders. It’s certainly worth watching if you hope to score high in the numerous fantasy Tour de France pools.
Tour de France
7 – 29 July
The Tour de France needs no introduction. While this year’s Giro started a long away from Rome (in Israel), this year’s Tour de France will start in the home country (France). The big question for bike racing fans in the Netherlands is, of course, whether or not Tom Dumoulin will also go for the GC victory in the Tour. We secretly hope that Dumoulin, flanked by his mega-domestique Wilco Kelderman, will battle it out for a podium spot in Paris.
Clásica San Sebastián
The Clásica San Sebastián is a hilly one-day classic that takes place towards the end of the bike racing calendar. But that doesn’t make it any less interesting than more well-known events. The race is often decided by one of the two climbs in the final 50 kilometres of the race: the Jaizkibel and the Alto Arkale. Because it’s just after the Tour de France, we can expect an interesting battle between the big names. Dutch rider Bauke Mollema won this classic in 2016 with an impressive solo breakaway.
Bauke Mollema won the 2016 edition. Photo: Cor Vos
Binck Bank Tour
13 – 19 August
The Tour of the Low Countries, formerly known as the Eneco Tour. After a start in Herenveen in the Netherlands, the event goes to Belgium, where after five days of racing the riders finish on the Vesten (near the city of Geraardsbergen). It is not yet known whether or not Tom Dumoulin will defend his title this year. But a number of big names will certainly be lined up at the start of this race.
Tom Dumoulin in the leaders’ jersey. Photo: Cor Vos
Tour of Spain
25 August – 16 September
The Vuelta. The final Grand Tour of the year, and the final chance for the riders in the peloton to bag a significant victory. While the Dauphiné is often seen as a warm-up for the Tour de France, the Tour of Spain is seen as an opportunity for riders to atone for disappointments earlier in the season. The Vuelta’s most well-known climb is the Angliru, which often competes with the Monte Zoncolan for the title of steepest climb in Europe. Sadly, the Angliru has not been included in this year’s Vuelta. This year, the race starts in Málaga, and ends with a symbolic final race through Madrid.
Enough viewing pleasure for the coming months, and we’re already right into the Dauphiné…