The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling’s Greatest One-day Races
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
The Tour de France may provide the most obvious fame and glory, but it is cycling's one-day tests that the professional riders really prize. Toughest, longest and dirtiest of all are the so-called 'Monuments', the five legendary races that are the sport's equivalent of golf's majors or the grand slams in tennis. Milan–Sanremo, the Tour of Flanders, Paris–Roubaix, Liège–Bastogne–Liège and the Tour of Lombardy date back more than a century, and each of them is an anomaly in modern-day sport, the cycling equivalent of the Monaco Grand Prix.
Time has changed them to a degree, but they remain as brutally testing as they ever have been. They provide the sport's outstanding one-day performers – the likes of Philippe Gilbert, Fabian Cancellara, Mark Cavendish, Tom Boonen, Peter Sagan and Thor Hushovd – with a chance to measure themselves against each other and their predecessors in the most challenging tests in world cycling. From the bone-shattering bowler-hat cobbles of the Paris–Roubaix to the insanely steep hellingen in the Tour of Flanders, each race is as unique as the riders who push themselves through extreme exhaustion to win them and enter their epic history.
Over the course of a century, only Rik Van Looy and Eddy Merckx have won all five races. Yet victory in a single edition of a Monument guarantees a rider lasting fame. For some, that one victory has even more cachet than success in a grand tour. Each of the Monuments has a fascinating history, featuring tales of the finest and largest characters in the sport. In The Monuments Peter Cossins tells the tumultuous history of these extraordinary races and the riders they have immortalised.
moment, saying of the Turchino: ‘The tunnel was of modest dimensions, just 50 metres long, but on 19 March 1946 it assumed exceptional proportions in the eyes of the world. That day it was six years in length and lost in the gloom of the war . . . A rumbling was heard from the depths of those six years and suddenly there appeared in the light of day an olive-greenish car stirring up a cloud of dust. ‘Arriva Coppi’ the messenger announced, a revelation only the initiated had foreseen.’ Coppi’s
behind me it was already complete chaos. No one could follow, not even Roger De Vlaeminck. I was alone. Ninety kilometres from Rocourt! But it was too late to rethink. Allowing my rivals to rejoin me would only boost their confidence. On the contrary, I had to deliver a knock-out immediately.’ Although he admitted he had committed his ‘first major mistake’ of the race, Merckx persisted with his effort, bridging across a six-minute gap to leaders Yves Hézard and his Molteni teammate Jos Spruyt in
When you are in form, you can deal with anything. The heat and the cold are tough, but you can deal with them mentally. On the sporting side, it was actually quite an easy win because of the conditions.’ Speaking on his fiftieth birthday to French magazine Vélo, whose readers had voted his second win in La Doyenne the greatest of his career, Hinault typically played down its significance. ‘It was a nice moment in my career. But, the snow apart, I was on a great day, so the victory was logical,
from the velodrome when leading the race. Van Hauwaert’s success and Faber’s startling performance led many to believe Roubaix would become the domain of cycling’s big men, but all would be upstaged during the next three editions by a Frenchman standing at just 1.65m. Octave Lapize turned pro at the start of 1909 having won a bronze medal in the 100km race at the London Olympics the previous summer. For L’Auto editor-in-chief and Roubaix race director Desgrange he was the perfect cycling
list of candidates put forward by the Fascist Party. Only 0.16 per cent of voters rejected the list of what was by that point Italy’s only legal political party, with Mussolini as the dictator at its head. Racing on a Monday in front of smaller crowds than usual didn’t appear to suit the big guns, Binda and Guerra, who were beaten by another rider known as ‘The Locomotive’, in this case Belgian Joseph Demuysere, who broke clear on Capo Berta to become his country’s third winner. After