The Cape Argus
In the world of international bike racing, the Tour de France is usually the first one that comes to mind. While the Tour is certainly high profile, the Cape Argus, in Cape Town, South Africa, is by far the largest. With 35,000 entrants in 2013’s race, the Argus, as it’s now known, is notorious for its extreme weather conditions, but also renowned for spectacular scenery. The route covers over 110 kilometers, and snakes around the Cape Peninsula. A big part of this race is the spirit of the spectators, who line the route armed with picnics and champagne; and then there are the entrants themselves. There is the usual contingent of serious die-hard athletes, but bringing up the rear is a parade of riders dressed in everything from superhero costumes to kilts. It’s a spectacle for all involved.
Milan – San Remo The Spring Classic
This is one of the classics of European road racing. Inaugurated in 1907, it holds the record as the longest one-day race in the world, at 298 kilometers. In spite of its relatively flat terrain, this is chiefly an endurance race. It tests the riders’ skill early in the season, and has its share of extreme weather, as in 1910, when a snowstorm hit. Belgium’s Eddy Merckx holds the Spring Classic’s record of seven wins, a record which still stands today, for the most victories in a single race.
The Tour de France
This the French stage of a multiple-stage race; the other two being the Giro d’italia, and the Vuelta a Espana. Each day’s time leader is awarded the yellow jersey, or “maillot jaune”. Although the actual race route changes somewhat every year, it always runs through the mountain passes of the Pyrenees, and the Alps, coming to the finish line at the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Since its first year in 1903, the Tour has been plagued with doping scandals. This reached a climax when Lance Armstsrong, winner of seven consecutive victories, was stripped of his titles on the basis of illegal doping. He has not contested the accusations.