The sportive season doesn’t start slowly and build up, it begins with a bang with some of the best rides in Europe front loaded in a packed six weeks between late March and mid May.
The experts at Sportive Breaks give us 6 of the best sportives to ride this spring, from the classics in northern Europe to the warmth of Italy and Spain and a recent edition to the UK calendar.
1Gent Wevelgem Sportive
The first big ride of the year. Hit the winds of Western Flanders with thousands of locals. This is a mostly flat route with a couple of very notable exceptions (the Kemmelberg hits nearly 20%) but the challenge is sticking to groups and hiding from the wind – easier said than done with quick accelerations after every corner. An easy sportive to get to from the UK and a lot of fun.
Equivalent of the cup final in this part of the world, the Tour of Flanders is a huge weekend of cycling with one of Europe’s largest sportives on the Saturday and then the pro race on the Sunday. The sportive takes in all of the classic cobbled climbs of this legendary route, in 2017 this includes the Muur after a long absence from the race. Always a classic cycling weekend
A sportive you have to ride to believe. While the cobbles of Belgium are quite uncomfortable, the pave at Paris Roubaix is an assault on the body and bike. The sectors are long and plentiful with stars signifying the difficulty with five stars being the hardest. There are three of these including the infamous Forest of Arenberg, a long straight beast and possible the hardest few kilometres in cycling. Finish with a lap of the velodrome in Roubaix and then recover before watching the great one day classic the day after
A different scene from the northern Europe spring classics, Mallorca 312 sees 6,500 riders come from around the world to take on the smooth tarmac and stunning climbs of cycling’s favourite island. The route is over fully closed roads with great organisation and the course spends most of the time in the Tramuntana mountains. You can choose on the day between the 167km route or all the way up to the full 312km. Mallorca in late April is a perfect place to ride and this event has quickly become one of the best in Europe
Following on from the hugely successful Grand Depart in 2014, the Tour de Yorkshire is establishing itself as an important part of the cycling calendar and the sportive has become massively popular. The route changes each year and in 2017 it will take in the beautiful Peak District with a start and finish just north of Sheffield. Join over 6,000 riders on the bank holiday weekend riding in one of the very best places in the UK to ride
Italy’s most popular sportive. The Nove Colli has been going since 1971 and is one of the original major rides in Europe. The 13,000 entries sold in 4 minutes last year and the atmosphere over the weekend is fun and warm. The sportive takes place in Emilia Romagna on the coast in Cesenatico. The route goes from the coast to the hills with some fierce climbs (Nove Colli translates as Nine Hills) before a rapid descent back to the finish line. This is one of the foody capitals of Italy so it’s a great place to carb load and recover.