2015 Spring Classics: How the hardest one-day races were won

A crash on the Paris-Roubaix cobbles

The arrival of spring across Europe heralded the annual series of tough and lengthy one-day 'Classics' - races which pit riders against uneven roads and unpredictable weather.

From a near-300km race across northern Italy, to the mud and cobbles of northern France and the oldest of all in Belgium, the Spring Classics are among the hardest races a professional cyclist face.

Milan-San Remo - Sunday, 22 March

John Degenkolb
Degenkolb wins the Milan-San Remo for the first time in his career

Race winner: Germany's John Degenkolb (Giant Alpecin)

In a nutshell: Britain's Geraint Thomas goes for a solo victory on the Poggio but is caught as he reaches the summit and the sprinters take over in the final kilometre. Defending champion Alexander Kristoff leads out the sprint but Degenkolb edges it on the line.

E3 Harelbeke - Friday, 27 March

Geraint Thomas
Geraint Thomas became the first British rider to win the formidable E3 Harelbeke race in Belgium

Race winner: Britain's Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)

In a nutshell: The 28-year-old makes an audacious attack with 40km to go and only Zdenek Stybar of the Czech Republic keeps pace. Peter Sagan catches up but Thomas drops them both with just over 4km left to prevail by 25 seconds.

Gent-Wevelgem - Sunday, 29 March

Luca Paolini
Luca Paolini finished 11 seconds clear of Geraint Thomas in the Gent-Wevelgem race

Race winner: Italy's Luca Paolini (Katusha)

In a nutshell: The 38-year-old wins the 239km event in wet and windy conditions, attacking with just under 6km to go and distancing himself from the chasing group of five riders to take victory. Dutch rider Niki Terpstra is second with Geraint Thomas recovering to finish third after being blown into a ditch by a gust of wind.

Tour of Flanders - Sunday, 5 April

Alexander Kristoff
Alexander Kristoff was the first Norwegian to win the Belgian classic

Race winner: Norway's Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)

In a nutshell: The 27-year-old follows Etixx-Quick Step's Niki Terpstra on an attack 25km from the finish and holds off the Dutchman in a sprint finish. Belgian Greg van Avermaet is third, with Britain's Geraint Thomas 14th. Trek's Jesse Sergent and FDJ's Sebastien Chavanel are both knocked off their bikes by team cars.

Paris-Roubaix - Sunday, 12 April

John Degenkolb
Degenkolb became only the third rider to win Paris-Roubaix and Milan-San Remo in the same season

Race winner: Germany's John Degenkolb (Giant)

In a nutshell: In his last race for Team Sky, Sir Bradley Wiggins attacks hard in the final 40km, but can not stay clear of the peloton. Instead John Degenkolb rides a shrewd race, timing his sprint to perfection in the velodrome, to secure Germany's first victory in the race since 1896. Luke Rowe is the best placed Briton in eighth as Welshman Geraint Thomas fails to finish.

Amstel Gold - Sunday, 19 April

Michal Kwiatkowski
Kwiatkowski's victory was the first of his career in the Spring Classics

Race winner: Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx - Quick-Step)

In a nutshell: As always, the race of 34 climbs comes down to the final ascent of the Cauberg. Three-time winner Philippe Gilbert attacks on the 1,200m climb and races clear with Michael Matthews. But the pair are caught in the final kilometre and Kwiatkowski wins the small bunch sprint.

La Fleche Wallonne - Wednesday, 22 April

Alejandro Valverde
Valverde defended the title he won last year, nine years after winning the Belgian classic for the first time

Race winner: Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

In a nutshell: Belgian Tim Wellens makes a break for the finish but is caught by the peloton and defending champion Valverde is the strongest on the third and final ascent of the formidable Mur de Huy. Britain's Chris Froome is involved in a crash 11km from the finish, although he gets back on his bike and finishes.

Liege-Bastogne-Liege - Sunday, 26 April

Alejandro Valverde (right) wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege
Valverde (right) won a thrilling sprint finish

Race winner: Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

In a nutshell: Valverde wins for the third time in his career with a well-timed attack, clinching the Ardennes double after his midweek victory in the Wallonne Arrow.

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