As the year draws to a close, peloton takes a look at the moments that define the racing season and their defining images. We started with the monuments of cycling, the greatest of the single-day races. Here we look at the races that lead up to the biggest tests… The warm-ups. Some riders hone their form in the desert of Qatar, preparing for the early classics. Others begin a steady build-up for the grand tours, using smaller stage races and select one-day races as critical tests.
The first months of the racing season are often months of extreme. From high winds and hot sun in the Middle East to biting cold, rain, and numb fingers in Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico. Finally, the thaw begins as the riders move to the Ardennes classics. The Giro and the Tour are no longer distant targets, but looming on the horizon. Favorites emerge from the shadows and the men for the biggest races take command.