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Cyclingnews 2006 Reader Poll Results

Best One-day Race

The Queen of Classics does it again

By Gregor Brown

On a downhill sector
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The Queen of Classics does it again; for the fifth year in a row, Paris-Roubaix has claimed the top spot in Cyclingnews' Best One-day Race category. Since we started this category in 2002, it has dominated the number one spot just as it dominates the fans' attention in the spring.

The cobbled race is a throw-back to old school, hard-man racing; they just don't make races like this anymore or all the cobbles in northern Europe have been paved over with asphalt. But the ASO, organizers of the race, have made sure to preserve their classical gem, and it has paid off.

Every year there are certain riders who build their season around this race like many do for the Tour de France. Riders in the past like Johan Museeuw or Franco Ballerini and current riders like Tom Boonen, George Hincapie, and Magnus Backstedt would consider their season a complete success if they crossed the line first in the Roubaix.

Hincapie crushed by the cobbles
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The race lacks any climbs, but it makes up for that with other landmarks; the hellish Arenberg Forest, which nearly killed Museeuw in 1998, the many cobbled sections where the lack of cobbles make conditions even worse and, finally, that velodrome. After slugging though dirt and cobbles for 250 kilometres, organizers greet the riders with a smooth velodrome packed with fans. Winning here takes a little bit of track experience. After battling on the cobbles all day, your legs are rattling with nerves and any mess up on the banked corners will log you a place in cycling infamy.

Proving that pavé equals success in our one-day race category, the Ronde Van Vlaanderen finished second to its French counterpart. This is the Tour of Flanders and it takes in every berg possible in Flemish-speaking Belgium. Some are paved and some are pavé, and even some are deemed too dangerous, like the Koppenberg, but all are the home to the power-men.

To become the king of Flanders, you need speed and legs like tree trunks, an example being Tom Boonen, winner in 2005 and 2006. Fans appreciate this sort of power-hungry, berg-crunching riding, and it shows in the votes cast. Third, another spring classic, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, also packs bergs. They are longer and called côtes, favouring the stage race rider, but are still very distinctive and thrilling in races.


                                    Votes     %ge
1 Paris - Roubaix                    6260    56.7
2 Tour of Flanders                   1338    12.1
3 Liège - Bastogne - Liège           1103    10.0
4 World championships road race       708     6.4
5 Giro di Lombardia                   455     4.1
6 Milano - Sanremo                    455     4.1
7 Amstel Gold Race                    333     3.0
8 MTB 24 hour world championships     227     2.1
9 World championships time trial       66     0.6
10 Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian      47     0.4
11 Züri Metzgete                       36     0.3
12 Vattenfall Cyclassics               18     0.2
                          Total:    11046