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Tribute to the 2018 North American Spring Classics

The 73rd edition of Omloop Het Niewsblad on February 24th marks the start of the European Spring Classics, and North America hosts a plethora of events that pay homage to the cobbles and dirt tracks of Northern France and Belgium

The brutal but legendary one-day races including the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Strade Bianche draw huge crowds and audiences to watch the hardest Pros do battle over famous or infamous cobbles and climbs, often in the most terrible weather conditions imaginable.

Every year, across North America, dozens of events pay tribute to the European Spring Classics. There's no need to cross the Atlantic, when you can enjoy Beer and Frites (French Fries) with Mayo in your own back garden.

Luckily, North America has over a 1.4 million miles of gravel and dirt roads that host some of the most unique challenges in the form of the Gravel Grinder.

A lot of these races can be tackled on a range of bikes, but Gravel Fondo specific bikes are fast becoming the norm, with clearance for wider tires and disc brakes that can handle 650 and 700 wheel sets. Gravel bikes have blurred the lines between traditional road (Gran Fondo) and off-road (Gravel Fondo) riding, and so have many events that now feature large sections of both tarmac, gravel and even worse terrain, where shouldering your bike on some parts, is all part of the early season "fun".

North America invented the Gravel Grinding genre, which is catching on fast around the world. As Europe and North America, Gran Fondo and Gravel collide - a new buzzword has emerged - "the Gravel Fondo". Think big fun, lots of gravel, endurance, good bike handling skills, self reliance and lots of beer afterwards!

For those riders looking to start training or hone their form before the Road and Gravel season gets into full swing, these events can kick-start your season.

Date Event Location Routes Diff  Type My Rides
Feb 25 Sourland Semi-Classic Hopewell, New Jersey, USA 60 miles C GRANFONDO
Mar 10 Iowa Spring Classic Cumming, Iowa, USA 32, 49 miles C GRAVEL
Mar 11 Hell of the NorFla Newberry, Florida, USA 315 km F GRAVEL
Mar 11 Gran Fondo Ephrata Ephrata, Washington, USA 50, 80 miles E GRAVEL
Mar 24 Lakeville-Milltown-Lakeville Lakeville, Minnesota, USA 40, 80 miles D GRAVEL
Mar 25 Pastry-Brest-Pastry Aurora, Illinois, USA 25, 60 miles C GRAVEL
Mar 25 Love Valley Roubaix Statesville, North Carolina, USA 50 miles D GRAVEL
Apr 01 Hell and Heck of the North Ballantrae , Ontario, Canada 70, 90 km D GRAVEL
Apr 07 Fools Classic Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania, USA 79 miles D GRAVEL
Apr 07 Virginias Rough Roubaix Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA 52, 90, 114 miles C GRAVEL
Apr 07 San Ysidro Dirty Century San Ysidro, New Mexico, USA 58, 73, 83, 98 miles D GRAVEL
Apr 08 Steaming Nostril St. Jacobs, Ontario Canada 40, 65 km C GRAVEL
Apr 08 Harris-Roubaix Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA 15, 30, 45 miles F CENTURY
Apr 13 - Apr 15 Montana Gravel Challenge Missoula, Montana, USA 3 stages D GRAVEL
Apr 14 Montana Hell Ride Hamilton, Montana, USA 45 miles C GRAVEL
Apr 14 Mammoth Gravel Classic St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, USA 30, 70, 100 miles D GRAVEL
Apr 14 Crushed Rock Classic Ames, Iowa, USA 30, 42 miles C GRAVEL
Apr 15 Strada Bellamy Sportif Newberry, Florida, USA 207 km F GRAVEL
Apr 15 Rocky Mountain Roubaix Missoula, Montana, USA 92 miles D GRAVEL
Apr 15 Gran Fondo Goldendale Goldendale, Washington, USA 45, 90 miles E GRANFONDO
Apr 28 The Fleche Buffoon New Hope, Pennsylvania, USA 74 miles D TOUR
Apr 28 NorCal Spring Classic Los Gatos, California, USA 70, 116 miles E GRAVEL
Apr 29 Brandywine Valley Roubaix III West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA 25, 60 miles C GRAVEL
Apr 29 Yakima Valley Fondo Yakima, Washington, USA 80 miles D GRANFONDO
Apr 29 Cheesehead Roubaix Newburg, Wisconsin, USA 63 miles C GRAVEL
May 06 Strada Fango Park Rice Lake, Wisconsin, USA 100km C GRAVEL
Jun 16 The Dirty Phil Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada 100, 171 km E GRAVEL
Jan 05 Marty's Fat 50 Hackettstown, New Jersey, USA 50 miles B GRAVEL
Feb 16 Middle Georgia Epic Irwinton, Georgia, USA 100, 200 km E GRAVEL
Feb 17 Flint Hills Express Wellsville, Kansas, USA 49 miles C GRAVEL
Feb 23 Rocheport Roubaix Katy Trail, Rocheport, Missouri, USA 20, 50, 70 miles F GRAVEL
Mar 02 Road Apple Roubaix Garrettsville, Ohio, USA 15, 25, 40 miles C GRAVEL
Mar 02 Redlands Strada Rossa Ride Redlands, California, USA 35, 66, 100 miles E GRAVEL
Mar 02 Dirty Pecan Monticello, Florida, USA 60, 80, 100, 150 miles F GRAVEL
Mar 02 Stokesville Strade Stokesville, Virginia, USA 33, 66 miles C GRAVEL
Mar 02 Dirty South Roubaix Alto Pass, Illinois, USA 50, 100 km C GRAVEL
Mar 09 Fish Rock Boonville, California, USA 72.4 miles D GRAVEL
Mar 16 Land Run 100 Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA 80, 172 km D GRAVEL
Mar 16 Waterloo G and G Gravel Road Race Grass Lake, Michigan, USA 10-mile, 50km, 100km C GRAVEL
Mar 24 Hell of Hunterdon Blawenburg, New Jersey, USA 82 miles D GRANFONDO
Mar 30 Dirty 30 Gravel Grinder Saranac, Michigan, USA 30 miles, 14 miles B GRAVEL
Apr 06 The Lowell 50 Lowell, Michigan, USA 15, 34, 100 miles C GRAVEL
Apr 07 Gorge Gravel Grinder The Dalles, Oregon, USA 59, 74, 106 miles F GRAVEL
Apr 13 Castell Grind Castell, Texas, USA 50, 72, 100km E GRAVEL
Apr 13 Barry Roubaix Hastings, Michigan, USA 22, 36, 62, 100 miles D GRAVEL
Apr 14 The Ossian Giant Gravel Grinder Swain, New York, USA 17, 35, 55 miles C GRAVEL
Apr 14 Marty's Spring Classic: Riding Dirty Hackettstown, New Jersey, USA 40, 70 miles D GRAVEL
Apr 20 The Prattsburgh Gravel Classic Prattsburgh, New York, USA 17, 35, 55 miles C GRAVEL
Apr 20 The Bootlegger 100 Lenoir, North Carolina, USA 60, 100 miles D GRAVEL
Apr 20 Dairy Roubaix Bagley, Wisconsin, USA 54, 107 miles D GRAVEL
Apr 20 Muddy Onion Spring Classic Montpelier, Vermont, USA 19, 34 miles C GRAVEL
Apr 26 - Apr 28 Cascade Gravel Grinder Tumalo, Oregon, USA 56, 90 miles D GRAVEL
Apr 27 Skaggs! and Super Skaggs Gravel Sonoma, California, USA 96 miles E GRAVEL
Apr 27 Rasputitsa Spring Classic East Burke, Vermont, USA 40 miles C GRAVEL
Apr 28 Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo Pittston, Pennsylvania, USA 62, 75, 103 miles C GRAVEL
Apr 28 Paris to Ancaster Paris, Ontario, Canada 40, 70 km C GRAVEL
Apr 28 Miesville FiftySix Miesville, Minnesota, USA 56 miles C GRAVEL
May 04 Black Fork Gravel Grinder Glenmont, Ohio, USA 22, 30, 54 miles C GRAVEL
May 04 Oregon Coast Gravel Epic Waldport, Oregon, USA 37, 60 miles C GRAVEL
May 04 Sagan Fondo Dirt Edition Truckee, California, USA 64 miles C GRAVEL
May 05 Canyon Belgian Waffle Ride San Marcos, California, USA 109, 235 km F GRAVEL
May 05 Hellkaat Hundie and Hellkitten Fiddie Hudsonville, Michigan, USA 25, 50, 100 miles D GRAVEL
May 05 Fountain-Roubaix Fountain, Colorado, USA 100 miles D GRAVEL
May 11 Tour of the Battenkill Cambridge, New York, USA 40, 75 miles D GRANFONDO
May 11 King Ridge Dirt Supreme Occidental, California, USA 62, 80 miles D GRAVEL
May 18 Almanzo 100 Fillmore County, Minnesota, USA 100, 162, 380 miles D GRAVEL
May 25 Golden Ears Gravel Fondo British Columbia, Canada 50, 100km B GRAVEL
Jun 09 Wellington Gravel Fondo Wellington, Colorado, USA 100 miles D GRAVEL
Jun 22 Robidoux Quick and Dirty Gering, Nebraska, USA 75 miles D GRAVEL
Jun 22 Hilly Billy Roubaix Morgantown, West Virginia, USA 74 miles F GRAVEL
Jun 23 Cowichan Crusher Lake Cowichan, British Columbia, Canada 55, 110 kms C GRAVEL
Jul 14 Victor Gravel Fondo Victor, Colorado, USA 100 miles D GRAVEL
Aug 22 - Aug 25 Vermont Overland Gravelfest Reading, Vermont, USA 43 miles C GRAVEL
Oct 26 The Lowell 50 Fall Classic Lowell, Michigan, USA 15, 34, 100 miles C GRAVEL

About the North American Classics

Barry-Roubaix in Michigan is by far the Largest Gravel Race in North America, featuring around 3,500 riders.

Paris to Ancaster, "Canada's Spring Cycling Classic", is a 70km ride that does everything it can to pump up the hardness factor to Paris-Roubaix levels. There are a number of mud sections that see most riders shoulder their bikes and celebrates it's 26th edition this year. Other hellish rides in Canada are Hell and Heck of the North, Steaming Nostril and later on the Golden Ears Gravel Fondo in BC.

The Tour of Battenkill Gran Fondo allows amateur cyclists to experience the 68 miles of rolling terrain on both dirt and paved roads as they travel through the world famous Battenkill Valley. Set in early spring, the race starts and finishes in the scenic village of Cambridge, New York and courses through covered bridges, family farms, and rural villages along the many challenging backcountry roads that traverse Southern Washington County, New York. 

The Canyon Belgian Waffle Ride, in California, is the most unique one day cycling event in the country, was created as an homage to the storied history of bike racing in Belgium—a wonderful country considered to be the epicenter of the hardest one-day bike races in the world. “A tribute to the beautiful—and equally grueling—races staged in Belgium during the early spring, this year’s route will once again be different than all of the previous years with some new and sinuous gravel, dirt, and rocky sections, and more climbing than rural Belgium could offer, promising more fun, more pain and more opportunity for excuses than ever before. Though the course will be shorter this year, but we hope to have at least 36 miles of dirt sections, more than 13,000 feet of climbing and headwinds no matter which direction you ride.

At the same time as the Belgian Waffle Ride, up in Montana is the new Montana Gravel Challenge, featuring 3 rides over 3 days, including the Montana Hell Ride and the Rocky Mountain Roubaix. Three days of riding, three events. Do one, two, or all three which we call the challenge and receive a commemorative prize!

For riders who like both Road and Gravel, the course of the Rouge Roubaix in Louisiana, is one of the best in America and is celebrating it's 20th edition in 2018. Coined the Deep South’s Most Unique Race, it is on par with the likes of California's Canyon Belgian Waffle Ride in terms of its unique and challenging course. Sunday’s Road Race is an opportunity for riders to battle it out for cash prizes, custom trophies, category champion's jerseys and most importantly - Rouge Roubaix Glory! Saturday's fast growing Gran Fondo, is a great opportunity for first timers or non-racers to tackle the race course with no time limits and fully supported stops and mechanical support from Mavic. This race is a classic test of man and his machine vs. the terrain and elements.

Vermont Overland Maple Adventure Ride on March 25th, is an incredibly tough scenic gravel road circumnavigation of the Ascutney Basin area of Vermont featuring  trademark “Vermont Pave” sectors (unmaintained town roads).  Depending on the weather, the road conditions could range from frozen solid with sand spread on them to all-out mud season! 

Photo Credit: Vermont Overland Maple Adventure Ride, Vermont, March 25th 2018

Photo Credit: Vermont Overland Maple Adventure Ride, March 25th 2018

One of the events kicking off the Classics Season in North America, is the Sourland Semi-Classic, part of Kermesse Sports Series of Classics. The Spring Classics are not all about the Monuments! In tribute to the second tier classics, the Sourland Semi-Classic (SSC), is a 62 mile ride that explores the Sourlands Region of Central New Jersey. It offers a gentler way to prepare for the main spring events, with some of the roads having been used by the Hell of Hunterdon. Be sure to enter any one of their four events quickly, as promoted by Gran Fondo Guide a few weeks ago, the "series discount" offer is "sold out" already.

>>> Conquering the Dirt – The Hell of Hunterdon, by By Nikki Ragonese <<<

Also sold out well in advance is Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo, which opened entry in November and was sold out "in under a day".

The Rasputitsa Spring Classic, Rasputitsa is Russian for “mud season", which gives you a pretty accurate preview of this 45-mile race for bragging rights in northern Vermont. In keeping with the Russian theme, the highlight of the course is “Cyberia,” a Class IV road that a former race participant described as “a scary backwoods where at any time a Yeti or Bengal tiger may jump out of the woods, bludgeon you with a blunt object, and either leave you for dead or drag you back into the woods for a nice little Saturday brunch.” It features Yeti's, maple syrup shots and, of course, Cyberia.

The Stokesville Strade celebrates the Strade Bianche classic Pro race which is famous for its rough "White Roads" and cobble stone streets. The routes will showcase a great variety of gravel, dirt and pavement. With rolling Shenandoah Valley roads this is a great early season event.

Three-times world champion Peter Sagan is working with Bike Monkey, the producer of Levi's GranFondo, to promote two new gran fondo events in California this year. The first event, called Sagan Fondo Dirt Edition is on May 5th in Truckee, CA on gravel and dirt roads near Lake Tahoe. 

>>> Peter Sagan Hosts Two New Gran Fondos in California <<<

Sadly the Boulder Roubaix Road Race is only conducted every other year and 2019 marks the next edition, so you'll have to wait. One of the Most Hallowed Races in the Western US, held the day before the real ‘Queen of the Classics’, the French race that goes from Paris to Roubaix. A 19 mile (30k) loop with 43% paved roads & 57% unpaved roads in North Boulder County.

Whatever you do, make sure you add at least one of these Classics to your Bucket List this Spring.

North American cyclists have never had it so good!

For a comprehensive, up to date, accurate and continually growing calendar of events througout the year, please visit:

2018 North American Gran Fondo Calendar
2018 North American Gravel Fondo Calendar
2018 North American Century Ride Calendar
2018 North American Cycle Tours, Bike Festivals, Leisure Rides, Expo's Calendar

Help Us! Do you know of an event that should be on this list? Email us at events@granfondoguide.com and we'll make sure they get added!


The European Spring Classics

On the other side of the Atlantic, the 73rd edition of Omloop Het Niewsblad marks the start of the European Spring Classics season for the Pro's and features 3 ascents of the Haaghoek and 3 ascents of the Leberg with the Muur and Bosberg featuring in the final showdown after 100 miles of racing!

The Kings of the 2017 classics are preparing for battle this season, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) wants to win Milano-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix, but Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky), Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors), and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) are ready for the challenge as well.

Magical, exceptional, incredible, that about sums up Greg Van Avermaet's incredible 2017 season, the strong man of the Spring classics. Winner of all the Spring classics apart the Tour of Flanders, his racing is impressive in every way, one in which the Belgian could not hope for a better outcome. Van Avermaet won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix. Many Pro's would be happy with these results, but not Van Avermaet. The BMC leader is already planning his season, what to tackle and the priority for the year to come, with his target Strade Bianche and Tour of Flanders.

Phillipe Gilbert won the Tour of Flanders in 2017 and Van Avermaet, after a crash with a fan, finished second and fell short of getting his dream win.

“I will always say Flanders is the most important,” Van Avermaet said. “It’s the race that fits me the best, and I’d like to win. If I am honest, my biggest dream is to win Flanders. I want to be good there.”

Three times World Champion Peter Sagan when asked about his main goals and future plans, Sagan said that he would love to win Paris-Roubaix and Milan San Remo.

“Not much has changed,” Sagan told La Gazzetta dello Sport, “I’ll race Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico before Milano-Sanremo. It’s a classic run to Flanders and Roubaix. My wish is Milano-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix victories. But if I could pull off Flanders again … that wouldn’t be bad!”

Team Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowski out sprinted Sagan and Alaphilippe to win Milano-Sanremo. It looks as if Team Sky will support Kwiatkowski in the opening classics, with Ian Stannard and Gianni Moscon supporting along with Luke Rowe, Owain Doull and Jonathan Dibben making a strong Classics lineup for Team Sky. Kwiatkowski could return to the Tour of Flanders for the first time in two years, a race that suits him, having already won Milano-Sanremo, Strade Bianche, and E3 Harelbeke. 

The classics start with the opening weekend in Belgium (Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Feb. 24 and 25), and continue with races like E3 Harelbeke, Dwars door Vlaanderen, and Ghent-Wevelgem. The big ones fall on March 17 (Milano-Sanremo), April 1 (Tour of Flanders), and April 8 (Paris-Roubaix). 

After that, another group of riders will compete for the Ardennes and build towards the Grand Tours starting with the Giro d'Italia in May.

You can find out more and follow the European Spring Classics season here.

Date Event Location Routes Category My Rides
Feb 24 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Ghent, Flanders, Belgium 196 km WORLDTOUR
Feb 25 Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne Kuurne, Belgium 201km WORLDTOUR
Mar 03 Strade Bianche Siena, Tuscany, Italy 176 km WORLDTOUR
Mar 17 Milano Sanremo Milan, Italy 291 km WORLDTOUR
Mar 23 E3 Harelbeke Harelbeke, Belgium 203 km WORLDTOUR
Mar 25 Ghent-Wevelgem Ghent, Belgium 243 km WORLDTOUR
Mar 28 Dwars Door Vlaanderen Roeselare, Belgium 200km WORLDTOUR
Apr 01 Tour of Flanders Antwerp, Belgium 255km WORLDTOUR
Apr 05 Scheldeprijs Antwerp, Belgium 208 km 1.HC
Apr 08 Paris-Roubaix Compiègne, France 258 km WORLDTOUR
Apr 11 Brabantse Pijl Overijse, Belgium 205km EUROPETOUR
Apr 15 Amstel Gold Race Maastricht, Netherlands 250 km WORLDTOUR
Apr 18 La Fleche Wallonne Marche-en-Famenne, Belgium 196km WORLDTOUR
Apr 22 Liege–Bastogne–Liege Liege, Belgium 250 km WORLDTOUR

The North American Spring Classics - George Hincapie Leads the Pack at the Paris-Roubaix in 2002