Issue 126 - Classics

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Why is the Ronde van Vlaanderen just like Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven? Which WorldTour directeur sportif and former Gent-Wevelgem winner has a side hustle in painting expressionistic landscapes? Which major R&B artist is also a keen cyclist? And how did a rider nicknamed ‘The Flying Mum’ once break the women’s World Hour Record? All these questions and many more are answered in Rouleur 126: Classics, which takes a deep dive into the culture and meaning of the world’s biggest one-day races. We have exclusive interviews with Wout van Aert, who is targeting the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and the Giro d’Italia this season, as well as the three winners of Paris-Roubaix Femmes, Lizzie Deignan, Elisa Longo Borghini and Alison Jackson, who talk about how they took victory in the Queen of Classics. We have also spoken with Flanders Classics race director Scott Sunderland, who explained how he has been weaving local history and culture into the narratives of his events. Cycling is not like other sports; the Classics are not like other bike races; and Rouleur is not like other bike magazines. Rouleur 126: Classics is a celebration everything that is special about these amazing races.
Ed Pickering, Editor

What’s in the magazine?

Wout van Aert: The Same, But Different

The 2024 season is going to look a little different for Wout van Aert. He’s swapped the Giro d’Italia for the Tour de France, where he’s been on domestique duties for Jonas Vingegaard (and occasional stage-hunting forays) and is anticipating freedom to target a lot of stage wins in the Italian Grand Tour. He tells Rouleur that he’s not going for GC in Italy, why Paris-Roubaix would be his ultimate race win and why leaving the 2023 Tour de France to be present for the birth of his child was a no-brainer.

How to win Paris-Roubaix Femmes

How do you win a race like Paris-Roubaix Femmes? The best way to find out would be to ask those who have actually done it. So that’s what we did. Lizzie Deignan, the inaugural winner in 2021, her team-mate and 2022 winner Elisa Longo Borghini and reigning champion Alison Jackson told Rouleur how they each mastered the challenges and tactics of the Queen of the Classics.

Storied Classics

Organising bike races is of course about designing sporting challenges and making the route safe for riders and spectators. However, this is cycling, and we at Rouleur understand that races have their own narratives and meaning. This is particularly true of the Flanders Classics events, which include Gent-Wevelgem, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Dwars door Vlaanderen, Scheldeprijs and of course the jewel in their crown, the Tour of Flanders. The Flanders Classics race director is former pro Scott Sunderland, who researched the history of each race along with their host towns and regions, and wove those stories into the race parcours. He takes Rouleur on a tour of his races, and explains why the Ronde is just like Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven.

Fred Wright and Matej Mohorič: Fast Friends

Fred Wright and Matej Mohorič are team-mates on Bahrain Victorious, but also good friends. In a two-up interview, they explain why good bonding makes good teams, how their talents complement each other in a race, and why their team is one step ahead of their rivals in how they tackle the Classics period – nothing to do with tactics or manpower, but rather staying in a team house, where they watch replays of the races together and play games, rather than in a hotel.

DJ Spoony: Dancing on the Pedals

Come for the pictures Sean Hardy took of DJ Spoony’s incredible records room; stay for the interview with Rachel Jary in which the R&B star talks about his rediscovery of cycling and how he is working to make the sport more inclusive.

American Dreaming

We speak with director, content creator and sometime professional bike racer Angus Morton about his new film Crit Dreams, which follows the fortunes and highs and lows of the American Cycling team as they tackle the 2023 American Criterium Cup season. This atmospheric, idiosyncratic and heartwarming film shows the races, action and passion, but also the small-town midwest context of many of the events, and most importantly builds an honest and compelling portrait of the main protagonists, including team director Thomas Craven and his rider Danny Summerhill. Do the team win the series? You’ll have to read the feature or watch the film to find out, but as always with cycling the biggest takeaway is not the result, but the meaning of the race.

David Lappartient: Smooth Operator

Former Rouleur editor Andy McGrath managed to pin down possibly the most powerful individual in cycling, UCI President David Lappartient, for an exclusive interview in which he talked about his roots in race organising in his native Brittany, how he manages the delicate issue of sportswashing and did not exactly dispel the rumour that he would be interested in running to be the president of the International Olympic Committee, while not saying that he would.

Maria Cressari: La Mamma Volonte

Through the first half of the 20th century and into the second half, the Italian cycling federation took no interest in women’s cycling. However, despite the lack of interest from the national governing body, a small number of female cyclists started to find international success in the 1960s and 1970s, culminating in the incredible story of Maria Cressari, nicknamed ‘The Flying Mum’, who flew to Mexico in the aftermath of Eddy Merckx’s famous Hour Record there, and broke the women’s version. The generation and movement that Cressari inspired gradually snowballed and led to the current golden generation of Italian female cyclists.

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Great Magazine 105

Really enjoying working through issue 105, it's brilliant!

David D.
United Kingdom

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