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With seven monuments to his name, Fabian Cancellara sits comfortably amongst the greats of one-day racing. When it comes to Flanders especially, though he has a few equals – including fellow Rouleur Classic dignitary, Johan Museeuw – he is surpassed by none.
Yet while it is his victories that made Cancellara a champion, it is the way he carried himself on (and off) the bike that distinguished him from his peers, marked him out as a hero. We’ve rather missed the one they called Spartacus since his retirement last year. In 2017, if the peloton has shimmered a little less, his absence might be why.
Some become stars overnight, Kasia Niewiadoma hit the big time with a single solo attack, on the very first stage of this year’s Women’s Tour. At the time, few could have predicted that it would be the winning move of the day, let alone that it would take her all the way to the London finish in the leader’s jersey.
Despite being just 22, Niewiadoma is already an authority at the front of the peloton. Off the bike, she conducts herself with the confidence of a Deignan or a Vos, at ease with the public, embracing the responsibilities that come with being a role model. While we look forward to watching her career as she develops, we can’t wait to meet her at the Rouleur Classic as well.
The Lion of Flanders was born to be a cyclist. Growing up in Gistel, his father a professional himself, “I watched the Spring Classics since before I can remember,” he says. “The family went to stand by the road for the Tour of Flanders and Ghent-Wevelgem most years.”
To become the Lion of Flanders, however, would take more than mere destiny. Six hour training rides, in gale force winds, over the hills, at speed, were a standard. All that work would make him a three-times champion at the Ronde, thrice also at Paris-Roubaix, and deliver seven more podium places to boot. He even almost lost a leg in the process. One of the Monuments’ men for sure.
The superstar Spaniard has won seven Grand Tours, across all three races, and is the most decorated of all currently active cyclists. Even in the twilight of his career, with one aborted retirement behind him, he is a rider the fans look for. Because you never quite know what he might do.
At this year’s Tour de France, while he wasn’t able to win a stage, Contador proved he remains relevant, can still add colour to a competition, and is able inspire those around him. Even his final position in the GC – 9th – found him comfortably ahead of many younger, supposedly stronger men. Not a roll back of the years, perhaps, but he’s clearly still got a few left in him.
Nicknamed ‘The Phoenix’, Felice Gimondi might be best known for achieving the most podium places at the Giro d’Italia – three victories among them – but he was no slouch when it came to the Classics, either.
In fact, Gimondi featured in the top three just as many times at the Monuments – nine – as he did at the corsa rosa. Throw in one win at each of Milan-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix, and two at Il Lombardia – not to mention that his era was also that of Merckx – and you’ve got one heck of a bike racer.
A rider without equal, where some riders train to race, Adam Hansen trains by racing. In 2016 Hansen racked up 88 days of racing, of which 63 were in the biggest races of all. The Lotto Soudal rider has just completed his 18th consecutive Grand Tour, but already has his sights set on La Vuelta.
Off the bike he’s even found time to design his own line in carbon racing shoes, as well as code an app catering to the communications needs of his fellow riders.
There’s no danger of him being at a loose end when he eventually decides to retire but at 36, the only question is: how long can he keep going for? Maybe ask him at the show.
One of the most successful German stage racers of his generation. Klöden was twice a second place finisher at the Tour de France, spending most of his career at Team Telekom (later T-Mobile). There he also won Paris-Nice and took the first of two victories at the Tour of the Basque.
After leaving T-Mobile, Klöden spent three years at Astana, picking up victories at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie, as well as a fifth place at the 2009 Tour. As cycling returns to prominence in Germany, after a few years in the wilderness, Klöden will join us to look forward as well as back.
Fan favourite Ned Boulting will again be on hosting duty, conducting Q&A sessions with the riders and getting to the heart of all you could ever want to know about the pro peloton. He’ll be sharing the role with Eurosport’s Jonathan Edwards and Sky’s Orla Chennaoui amongst other prominent names.