Images: Ian Matteson, Jered Gruber, Ashley Gruber
Each spring, cycling fans around the world anxiously await the arrival of the Spring Classics. While there are many races that comprise the classics season, two standout for their rugged cobbled sectors, and are deemed “monuments”, those are the Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) and Paris-Roubaix.
For ENVE, these cobbled monuments provide the opportunity to connect with Team Dimension Data, gather additional product feedback, test new product concepts, and experience Belgian cycling culture realtime.
On our first day in Belgium, we headed out for some recon on the cobbled climbs of the Ronde. While the cobbles and steep average 12% grade of the Koppenberg were truly impressive, more notable were the countless cyclists testing themselves against the Ronde.
Come race day, we loaded up for a competition of our own, to chase the race and shoot photos of the mayhem and watch the race from multiple locations. These photos are a result of that effort.
While our man Edvald Boasson Hagen didn’t net that final podium position we had our fingers crossed for, Team Dimension Data’s performance, the Belgian cycling fans, and Sagan’s win was impressive.
With the Ronde behind us, we set our sights towards the Queen of the Classics, Paris-Roubaix. We were especially excited for this event as we had recently delivered a new Smart ENVE System aero carbon road wheel prototype that has been specifically designed for the larger tires used for Paris-Roubaix. While 52.7 kilometers of the race are on cobbles, the other 200 kilometers are on paved open roads where exposure to the wind makes aerodynamics a real benefit.
A note on the cobbles of Roubaix, if you have never experienced the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, you should add it to your bucket list. It’s one thing to watch the race on TV, but it’s a completely different thing to experience these cobbles from the saddle. In short, they are gnarly. A cobbled sector with a 1 star rating equates to feeling each seam between the stones, but not so rough that your momentum or equipment is heavily compromised. On the other end of the spectrum, 5 star cobbled sectors will swallow your speed, and test the limits of your body and equipment. That is why you see riders riding that thin ribbon of dirt at the edge of the road.
The ENVE prototype wheels delivered to Team Dimension Data, performed flawlessly and ENVE favorite Edvald Boasson Hagen rode to an impressive fifth place finish.
With classics season behind us, we are already looking forward to 2017’s running of the Ronde and Roubaix. We are already talking about joining the masses for the Roubaix Sportive. Maybe you should as well.