TOUR DE FRANCE
The Tour de France is the Grande Dame of the three great European professional cycling stage races. The multi-stage race is considered to be the world’s most prestigious and challenging event. It was first staged 1903 to promote a newspaper and now attracts around 12 million spectators each year.
VUELTA A ESPAÑA
Only 20 years younger than the Tour de France, La Vuelta is Spain’s annual race is one of the three Grand Tour events. The race takes place over 23 days in August. The route changes every year, except for the passage through the Pyrenees and the finish in the Spanish capital city of Madrid.
The Giro d’Italia usually takes place in May. Like it’s Grand Tour siblings, the race consists of multiple stages and takes place over 23/24 days, allowing for a couple of rest days. The route changes every year but the format stays the same, with two time trials and a route through the Alps, including the Dolomites.
UCI ROAD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
The UCI World Championships are organised by the Union Cycliste Internationale. The multiple events are contested by national teams, unlike the trade teams that compete in the Grand Tours. The championships take place at a different city or region every year, usually in late August or early September.
If you lack the stamina to stay the distance of a three-week tour, consider the cobblestone paved, 260 km, one-day challenge that is the Paris-Roubaix. It is one of cycling’s oldest races and famed for its rough terrain and the notorious 50 km stretch of cobblestones.
Known as the ‘Hell of the North’, the race takes place in April and rain, mud, and controversy are all par for this challenging course. It’s brutal, exciting and a great betting opportunity, with underdogs often seizing the day by purely surviving.
North west Italy is the venue for La Classicissima di Primavera (The Spring Classic). Raced over a distance of 298 km, it is the longest one-day race in modern cycling. Held in March, it’s the opening race of the UCI Road World Cup Series.
Unlike Paris-Roubaix, this is a sprinter’s course over mostly flat terrain. It’s a fabulous race to bet on because it is often won by the best prepared rider with a strong sprint finish. Its unusually long distance has foiled many a sprinter, tricked into an early push but incapable of staying the (long) distance.