After the usual soulless early season cycling races in the middle east, along straight flat roads with no spectators (though to be fair, crosswinds can cause havoc) we finally get to Belgium for the first spring classics of the year.

Cycling is different in Belgium. Its popularity makes it essentially a national sport, taken very seriously with a lot of tradition and past success to feed on. Short, sharp climbs made all the more hellish by being cobbled. And these aren't town centre smooth cobbles, these are harsh uneven koppen that shake you to the bones.

Tour of Flanders is in a couple of weeks, and for me it's the best one day race of the year. Massive attrition in a drama that unfolds over 5 hours or so. Unpredictable, yet a host of probable winners who need some luck to go with tactics and an early season fitness peak.