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In professional road cycling sports, most people know about the Tour de France. Le Tour is a great bike race encompassing the world’s best cyclists riding over 2000 grueling miles in the French countryside. The race is today the most popular and prestigious cycling race in the world rendering all other races as training routines. Cyclists pedal through picturesque villages, the alpine passes shadowed by fans along the winding roads. International journalists and corporate sponsor banners are plastered along the courses entire length for the whole 21 days. This is the big dance where one brilliant day may catapult your career into the record books.

Aside from the Tour de France, there is a myriad of great bike races that are gaining prominence. Here are some of the most popular ones:

Giro d’Italia (Italy)

The excitement of this race lies in the mountainous terrain, dirt roads, and individual time trials. Though still largely Italian, the race attracts spectators from all corners of the globe for this 21-day feast. Characteristically known for its sketchy weather in the Alps and Dolomites, the Giro d’Italia largely qualifies as a ‘training routine’ before the Grand Tour. The race was first held in 1909 and has been held in the month of May every year ever since. Borrowing from the Tour, the Giro has initiated solo time trials that are about 37 miles.

Paris Roubaix (France)

The ‘Hell of the North’ is the term usually used to refer to this race, and it’s easy to see why. 275 kilometers of winding race track divided amongst 29 sectors that test a riders’ ability to maintain nimble control and handling ability on a treacherous terrain. The French pave is iconic for its cobblestones that give the riders a battering throughout the race. Mechanical problems and crashes are a norm that eventually singles out the races’ winner. Held in May, this cycling race rivals the Milan-San Remo as the most grueling single day race.

Milan-San Remo (Italy)

Commonly referred to as the ‘Sprinters Classic’, the Milan San Remo has been held on March of every year since 1907. The race holds its feat as the most enduring 185-mile one-day pro cycling race because it’s started and completed in the same day. The stretch is mostly flat with one hump before sloping down to Italian Riviera towns by the seaside. The winner of the race is not recognized by the time he takes to complete the race but rather the one who commits the fewest errors along the day’s race.