Sunday, April 15, 2012

Marques of Distinction

The history of cycling is littered with iconic names

The names of the Five Monuments of Cycling are generally considered to be the oldest and most-prestigious one-day races on the calendar.

  • Milan - San Remo ( Italy )– the first true Classic of the year, its Italian name is La Primavera (the spring), this race is held in late March. First run in 1907.
  • Tour of Flanders ( Belgium )– also known as the "Ronde van Vlaanderen", the first of the 'Spring Classics', is raced in early April. First held in 1913.
  • Paris - Roubaix  ( France )– the "Queen of the Classics" or l'Enfer du Nord ("Hell of the North") is traditionally one week after the Ronde van Vlaanderen, and was first raced in 1896.
  • Liege - Bastogne - Leige  (Belgium) – late April. La Doyenne, the oldest Classic, was first held in 1892 as an amateur event; a professional edition following in 1894.
  • Giro de Lombardia (Italy) – also known as the "Race of the Falling Leaves", is held in October. Initially called the Milano–Milano in 1905, it became the Giro di Lombardia in 1907.

and at the other end of the scale are the Grand Tours lasting more than 14 days each
  • Tour de France– Tour of France (est. 1903), held in July
  • Giro d’Italia– Tour of Italy(est. 1909), held in May
  • Vuelta a Espana – Tour of Spain (est. 1935), currently held in August

The stories of the men who have competed in these events; their feats of endurance, daring , bravery and imperviousness to pain are the stuff of legends.

And they were all done on a bike whose basic concept has rarely changed over the decades. Though advances in engineering technology and material science has now allowed the introduction of exotic materials into frame construction and wireless technology into gear change.

It was to capture some of the essence of those early pioneers that I wanted my bike to be built from components which harked back to those early years. A retro bike in these days of carbon frames and electronic gear shifters.

A bike which would salute those Marques of Distinction.

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