Sportive Season 2008

Paris Roubaix ~ VelodromeFor each sportive season, I try to have a theme or common thread between the events.  Season 2004 was the UCI Golden Bike Series, 2005 the Belgian Classics & the Alps, 2006 The Monuments, and 2007 the Pyrenees 4 Aces series, which became three in the end!

For 2008 we're looking to tackle the sporting legends sportives and some very difficult decisions had to be made.  With some riders having a cloud over their performances it was sometimes a moral dilemma to include their events.  I still can't bring myself to ride the Richard Virenque sportive but I have included the Charly Gaul.  I'm not sure I've got the mix right yet, but here's a fist draft.

This year will see my 50th European sportive coming up and I wanted to make it a memorable one.  So here's how the calendar pans out.

I hope to kick the season off in early April again with the 155k Ronde Sable Sur Sarthe, as it's (relatively) local, it's fast, and it's held at lunchtime!  Dianne finished second in the W3 class in 2007, so she's got unfinished business in the 92k ladies event.

Two weeks later it's the first of the legends; the 150k,Peter van Petegem in Belgium.  That's quickly followed on May Day (Thursday) by the 160k Steven Rooks in Maastricht, which includes a climb of La Redoute and the 164k La Ble D'Or on the Sunday at Chartres just outside Paris.  I was meant to be doing the Freddy Maertens but it's been cancelled this year, so that's a legend missed I'm afraid.

A week later it's another double bill, the 120k Jean Rene Bernadeau on the Saturday followed by the 105k Brocelliande on the Sunday before a quick ferry ride home to get some fresh shorts. 

June comes in with a bang and Claudio Chiapucci's 161k event near Dijon.  Followed a week later by another trip to the Belgium Ardennes for the 17 climbs and 165k that make up the  Eddy Merckx on Saturday and the Bernard Hinault in Brittany on the Sunday; don't think I'll be doing the 235k ride, probably settle for the 110k one!  The end of the month sees a trip to northern Italy for the monster 205k Fausto Coppi Sportive.

Tour of Lombardy ~ GhisalloAs ever it's rest and recuperation in July to watch the Tour and to charge the batteries.  However, the last day of the Tour also sees another trip to Italy for the 160k Fabio Casartelli Memorial Gran Fondo around Belagio and what will be my second trip over the Ghisallo. See right.

August sees a few preparation events like the Puy de Dom based, 146k, Raphael Geminiani and the Laurent Desbiens on the French/Belgian border riding 150k of the roads used in the 4 Days of Dunkerque stage race. 

The end of August sees the milestone of my 50th European sportive; a true riding legend, a monumental event and a location steeped in cycling history and tradition.  It's back to Italy for the truly fantastic Cima Coppi,  

Last year 7,000 riders took part in a closed road, 27 kilometre,  2758 metre, 7.5% average gradient climb, to the top of the Stelvio Pass.  In 2008, I hope to be one of them!

To keep some end of season interest I'm going to finish off with the Charly Gaul taking on 160k of Luxembourg's finest roads, while Dianne as ever will take on the shorter, but no less demanding, 100k event.  We haven't been there for a few years and it's a nice place to end the season don't you think?

Have a happy, safe and enjoyable 2008 season.