The cobbled Classics are steeped in as much prestige and history as the Grand Tours of cycling, and offer the chance for the bigger, more explosive riders a chance to write their name into the annals of cycling legend.

2016, like any year, will see an exciting spring campaign fought out between some of the world’s toughest riders. It will also be the last chance to see Classics greats Tom Boonen (Etixx – Quick-Step) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) battle it out on the roads of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix for the final time, with Spartacus set to bow out at the end of the season.

But there’s more to the cobbled Classics than Flanders and Roubaix. Riders begin a long build-up to the two monuments from late February, as cycling’s one-day specialists flock to Belgium for an opening double header of semi-Classics, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and one usually for the sprinters, Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne.

The cobbles then traditionally take a break through most of March, as riders head to the likes of Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, as well as the first monument of the year, Milan-San Remo.

The cobbled Classics then come thick and fast with three in a week. The semi-classic Dwars door Vlaanderen kicks it all off, and is generally the closest thing riders will come to the Tour of Flanders ahead of the race itself, with the course often including many of the same bergs, oudes and muurs like the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg.

It’s then on to the two Classics E3 Harelbeke and Ghent-Wevelgem, which usually feature Friday and Sunday, the week before riders take on the Ronde.

Wevelgem, like the Scheldeprijs which sits on the Wednesday between Flanders and Roubaix, is one of the Belgian Classics that favours sprinters like Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel, featuring fewer bergs than other Classics.

The 2016 Cobbled Classics:

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Feb 27 (UCI 1.HC) Report
Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Feb 28 (UCI 1.1) Report
Dwars door Vlaanderen, Mar 23 (UCI 1.HC) Report
E3 Harelbeke, Mar 25 (UCI WorldTour) Report
Ghent-Wevelgem, Mar 27 (UCI WorldTour) Report
Tour of Flanders, Apr 3 (UCI WorldTour)
Scheldeprijs, Apr 6 (UCI 1.HC)
Paris-Roubaix, Apr 10 (UCI WorldTour)

The new Trek Domane with front and rear dampeners

It’s not just the riders that take a battering when assaulting the brutal cobbles of the Hell of the North, the bikes take a hell of a pounding too. In order…

British cobbles 1

Everyone knows about the cobbles in Northern France and Belgium, but what about those stretches of cobbled climbs on our very own shores?