Cobbled Classics Contenders: Who Will Reign Supreme in 2024?

The spring Classics are upon us, and with them comes the iconic period of cobble racing. From E3 Saxo Bank Classic (Harelbeke), through to the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) and the Hell of the North (Paris-Roubaix), the next few weeks will see the peloton battle it out on some of cycling's most revered and brutal roads. The editions this year promise to be no different, with a cast of superstars ready to do battle. Let's take a look at some of the riders to watch in both the Men's and Women's categories.

The Men's Contenders:

  • Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck): MVDP, The current World Road Race Champion and last year’s winner of Paris-Roubaix is undeniably one of the key men to beat. His explosive power, bike handling skills, and ability to attack from afar make the tall Dutchman a constant threat on the cobbles. Testament to his strength was his 43 km solo victory in the cobbled classic opener - E3 Saxo Bank Classic. In a head-to-head battle with Wout Van Aert (Visma-Lease a Bike), MVDP attacked alone on the Paterberg, holding off his big rival in a tense pursuit, all the way to the finish. He has left his mark for the remaining Cobbled Classics.
  • Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates): Coming from his 80 km solo win in Strade Bianche, the former Tour de France winner and incumbent “Ronde” title holder, might traditionally seem like an outsider on the cobbles, but Pogacar's talent transcends terrain and animates races far and wide. His aggressive riding style and ability to handle tough conditions could see him dominate once again in Flanders or even make a surprise start in Roubaix. Whilst a win in “Roubaix” might be a long shot, Pogacar's presence will undoubtedly add another layer of intrigue to the races.
  • Wout van Aert (Team Visma | Lease a Bike): MVDP’s biggest rival and arch nemesis, van Aert, will be looking to dethrone the current king of the cobbles. The Belgian rider boasts similar all-around capabilities and comes into the Classics with a strong track record, having won Strade Bianche earlier this year. Expect close battles and tactical mind games between these two throughout the cobbled calendar.
  • Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck): Fresh off his impressive victory at Milan-San Remo, the Belgian rider can't be ignored. While not a pure Classics specialist, Philipsen's blistering sprint makes him a danger man if the race comes down to a bunch finish. He could be a valuable weapon for van der Poel's Alpecin-Deceuninck squad, or a surprise winner himself if the opportunity arises. After all he did finish runner up to his teammate MVDP in the 2023 edition of Roubaix.
  • Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek): The 2020 World Champion on the road, Pedersen is a proven winner on the cobbles. His combination of speed and tactical nous makes him a contender for any of the Classics, particularly Gent-Wevelgem and Flanders. With a strong Lidl-Trek team behind him, Pedersen will be looking to add another prestigious victory to his palmarès.
  • Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers): The Briton has quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with in one-day races over the last few years but not necessarily been dominant. His cyclocross background naturally gives him the crucial bike handling skills for the cobbles, and his aggressive racing style could be a major advantage. Pidcock might not be the top favorite this year, but don't be surprised to see him animating the races and potentially challenging for podium finishes. His form in Saturday’s Milan San-Remo was divine – pushing right until the line.


The Women's Contenders:

  • Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx): The reigning champion of Flanders, Kopecky is the clear favorite for the Women's cobbled Classics. Her combination of power, endurance, and technical ability makes her almost unbeatable on any given day. With a strong SD Worx team supporting her, Kopecky will be aiming to dominate the entire cobbled calendar.
  • Demi Vollering (SD Worx): Kopecky's teammate, Vollering, is a force to be reckoned with in her own right. The Dutch rider is a multiple stage winner at the Giro d'Italia Donne and possesses the climbing ability that could prove decisive in races like Flanders. Don't be surprised to see Vollering playing a supporting role for Kopecky early on, before potentially challenging for her own victory later in the Classics.
  • Marianne Vos (Team Visma | Lease a Bike): The "GOAT" of women's cycling, Vos can never be discounted. While her palmarès on the cobbles isn't as extensive as Kopecky's, her experience and tactical nous make her a dangerous contender. With a young and talented Jumbo-Visma team behind her, Vos will be looking to add to her already legendary legacy and perhaps her 2013 win in Flanders too.
  • Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek): The Italian rider is a versatile talent who excels in both hilly and cobbled Classics. Her climbing ability could be an asset in Flanders, while her experience makes her a threat in any race she enters. Look for Borghini to be aggressive and animate the races, potentially setting up attacks or working for teammates.

Who knows, you may even find one of our Best-in-Class SN-VITAE Bottom Brackets inconspicuously underneath one of the World Tour riders…

Cobbled Classic Dates

  • March 20         Classic Brugge-De Panne - Men & Women
  • March 22         E3 Saxo Bank Classic - Men
  • March 24         Gent-Wevelgem - Men & Women
  • March 27         Dwars door Vlaanderen - Men & Women
  • March 31         Tour of Flanders - Men & Women
  • April 3               Scheldeprijs - Men & Women
  • April 6               Paris-Roubaix - Men & Women

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