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Rapha's Guide to the Racing Season: Part I

As professional road racing makes its long-awaited return, we take you through the rearranged race calendar, highlight the favourites and look forward to what is sure to be a scintillating, if slightly strange, cycling season.

31 July 2020

As last year’s cycling season drew to a close with a slightly random sequence of races in Italy and China, many cycling fans would already have agreed that the cycling calendar was in need of a little reform. Fast forward almost a year and few could have imagined how much of an overhaul the calendar could have undergone.

After months on hold, perhaps the craziest cycling season of all time is about to get back on the road. The traditional calendar, supposedly set in stone, has been turned on its head as race organisers seek to make up for lost time and pack as much racing action into what remains of the season.

If you’ve seen the revised racing calendar already, you’ll have some idea of what’s in store; if you haven’t, keep reading to find out more as we bring you the first part of our guide to a cycling season quite unlike any other.

"Everyone wants to show off what they have in the tank, I expect it will create a very high level of racing. "


– Alena Amialiusik, Canyon//SRAM

 

STRADE BIANCHE

1 August

Women’s & men’s

 

Normally held in March, this race across the white roads of Tuscany often takes place in wet weather which turns the roads into quagmires and leaves the riders coated in mud. This year, dust is likely to be the order of the day, perhaps some of the field will leave their masks on as they race to the iconic finish in Siena’s Piazza del Campo?

 

Favourites: With absolutely no form guide to consult ahead of the first race back, many are looking towards proven performers in previous editions. Who can knock defending champions Annemiek van Vleuten and Julian Alaphilippe from their respective perches?

 

MILAN-SAN REMO

8 August

Men’s

 

Nicknamed la Primavera, Italian for spring, this is the longest race of the year at almost 300 kilometres. As usual, the riders will cross the flat plains of northern Italy before crossing the Apennines and making their way down to the Ligurian coast. The route along the coast has been altered but the decisive climbs of the Cipressa and the Poggio remain, so get set for the usual fireworks as the first Monument winner of the year is decided.

 

Favourites: Known for being the easiest Classic to finish but the hardest to win, Milan San Remo is somewhat of a lottery. All eyes will be on Belgian ace Philippe Gilbert to see if he can finally complete his collection of Monument titles.

 

CRITÉRIUM DU DAUPHINÉ

12–16 August

Men’s

 

From the Mediterranean to the mountains for the traditional Tour de France warm-up event. With the Tour of Switzerland cancelled this year, most of the riders battling it out at le Boucle will be here. To help ease calendar congestion, the race has been shortened to five stages in 2020 but expect just as many mountains as usual with two stage finishes into the ski station at Mégève over the final weekend

 

Favourites: This has been an event dominated by Team INEOS in recent years but expect a strong challenge from the Dutch Jumbo-Visma squad. And, more than anything else, expect the unexpected as the pros race in the high mountains for the first time since last year’s Vuelta.

“We are finally getting underway!”


– Mitch Docker, EF Pro Cycling

 

LA COURSE

29 August

Women’s

 

All eyes in the women’s peloton are fixed firmly on the very first women’s Paris-Roubaix later in the year, but La Course is another race that is not to be missed. Having taken various forms in previous seasons, this year’s event will be a one-day race through the hills above Nice on a course that includes a sinuous descent and a likely sprint finish on the Promenade des Anglais.

 

Favourites: The great triumvirate of Dutch greats – Vos, Van Der Breggen and Van Vleuten – have all taken the title in recent seasons and few would bet on this year’s victor being from outside the Netherlands.

 

TOUR DE FRANCE

29 August–20 September

Men’s

 

The Tour is more to France than just a bike race. As such, the authorities there have worked day and night to ensure that cycling’s greatest show goes ahead. While stage starts and finishes will be strangely quiet, the race will follow the same route as planned with eight mountain stages. The race’s only time trial comes on the final Saturday and finishes atop la Planche des Belles Filles, so it’s sure to be decisive.

 

Favourites: INEOS are the team to beat with three former winners in Froome, Thomas and reigning champion Bernal. Jumbo-Visma look strong but can Thibaut Pinot return to exorcise the demons of last year and win the Tour with victory in the final time trial that takes place in his backyard?

What The Pros Are Wearing

We work with the world’s best riders to make the world’s best kit. For over a decade we have sponsored teams at all levels across different disciplines, and incorporated feedback from riders at the top of the sport.

EF Pro Cycling Pro Team Aero Jersey

Made for race days when the slightest aerodynamic advantage can underpin a race-winning move. No ordinary replica, this 2020 team edition is identical to those used by EF Pro Cycling riders at the highest level of competition, from infiltrating the breakaway to sprinting for the finishing line. Smooth fabrics on the front and textured at the back minimise drag to ensure effort equates to speed. The sleek material on the back panel has a directional nap – smooth in one direction, rough in the other – to provide an additional aerodynamic advantage. And we’ve got the palmares to prove it – this jersey has seen the top step at one of cycling’s Monuments and Flanders finest classic, De Ronde.

Shop all EF Pro Cycling

WOMEN'S CANYON//SRAM PRO TEAM AERO JERSEY

Inspired by classic comic book art, this new design is about showing the superhero within.

Wind tunnel testing and cutting-edge materials combine in the design of the Aero Jersey, our fastest racewear ever. Leading edges utilise smooth fabrics and trailing surfaces use rough textures with bonded seams for an aerodynamic advantage, helping you to cut through the air.

Shop all Canyon//SRAM

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