We are reader-supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Cycling is a sport that captures the hearts of fans worldwide with its grueling races and picturesque routes.

From renowned Grand Tours to one-day classics, here is an overview of the most prestigious and important professional cycling races.

Most Important Cycling Tournaments:

  1. Tour de France
  2. Giro d’Italia
  3. Vuelta a España
  4. UCI Road World Championships
  5. Paris-Roubaix
  6. Tour of Flanders
  7. Amstel Gold Race
  8. La Flèche Wallonne
  9. Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  10. Milan-San Remo
  11. Strade Bianche
  12. Paris-Nice
  13. Tour de Suisse
  14. Critérium du Dauphiné
  15. Gent-Wevelgem
  16. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
  17. E3 Harelbeke
  18. Tour of California
  19. Tour Down Under
Cycling

#1 Tour de France

  • 📍 Location: France
  • 📅 Established: 1903
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: 22 professional teams

The Tour de France, organized by the Amaury Sport Organisation, is the most prestigious and iconic race in professional cycling. Covering approximately 3,500 kilometers throughout France and neighboring countries, it consists of 21 stages varying in terrain.

Historical occurrences such as the introduction of time trials and mountain stages have shaped the race’s narrative. Belgium’s Eddy Merckx holds the record for most overall victories with five titles.

#2 Giro d’Italia

  • 📍 Location: Italy
  • 📅 Established: 1909
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: 23 professional teams

The Giro d’Italia, organized by RCS Sport, is the second Grand Tour in professional cycling, with 21 stages held primarily in Italy.

Known for its challenging climbs and passionate fans, the Giro has evolved to include longer time trials and higher summit finishes. Italy’s own Alfredo Binda, Fausto Coppi, and Eddy Merckx from Belgium share the record for most victories with five titles each.

#3 Vuelta a España

  • 📍 Location: Spain
  • 📅 Established: 1935
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: 22 professional teams

The Vuelta a España, organized by Unipublic, is the youngest of the three Grand Tours, taking place over 21 stages in Spain and occasionally neighboring countries.

Famed for its steep climbs and unpredictable race scenarios, the Vuelta continually introduces new summit finishes and time trial challenges. Spain’s Roberto Heras holds the record for most overall wins, with four titles to his name.

#4 UCI Road World Championships

  • 📍 Location: Varies worldwide
  • 📅 Established: 1921
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: National teams

The UCI Road World Championships, governed by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), is a week-long event featuring individual and team time trials, along with road races for various age categories.

Known for awarding the coveted rainbow jerseys to the winners, it brings together the best riders from around the world, representing their countries. Belgium, France, and Italy have historically been dominant forces in the championships.

#5 Paris-Roubaix

  • 📍 Location: France
  • 📅 Established: 1896
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: Professional teams

Paris-Roubaix, also known as the “Hell of the North,” is a one-day race organized by the Amaury Sport Organisation, notorious for its challenging cobblestone sections.

The race traverses Northern France, with the winner traditionally receiving a mounted cobblestone trophy. Belgium leads the nation rankings with 56 victories, and Belgian rider Roger De Vlaeminck shares the record for most wins at four with fellow countryman Tom Boonen.

#6 Tour of Flanders

  • 📍 Location: Belgium
  • 📅 Established: 1913
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: Professional teams

The Tour of Flanders, organized by Flanders Classics, is a monumental one-day race in Belgium, known for its short but steep climbs, often covered in cobblestones.

The race has become synonymous with Belgian cycling culture and traditions. Belgium dominates the race history, with 69 victories to date. Achiel Buysse, Fiorenzo Magni, Eric Leman, and Tom Boonen share the record for most wins, each with three titles.

#7 Amstel Gold Race

  • 📍 Location: The Netherlands
  • 📅 Established: 1966
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: Professional teams

The Amstel Gold Race, organized by Amstel Gold Race BV, is the Netherlands’ most prestigious one-day race. Featuring a challenging route with numerous short, steep climbs, the race often sees thrilling finales.

Dutch riders have historically been successful on home soil, with Eddy Merckx, Jan Raas, and Philippe Gilbert each claiming three victories as record-holders.

#8 La Flèche Wallonne

  • 📍 Location: Belgium
  • 📅 Established: 1936
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: Professional teams

La Flèche Wallonne, organized by Amaury Sport Organisation, is a classic one-day race in Belgium, famously featuring the iconic Mur de Huy climb. Held in the Ardennes region, it challenges riders with its hilly terrain.

Spain’s Alejandro Valverde holds the record for most victories, with five titles. The race is an integral part of the Belgian cycling calendar, attracting top climbers from around the world.

#9 Liège-Bastogne-Liège

  • 📍 Location: Belgium
  • 📅 Established: 1892
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: Professional teams

Liège-Bastogne-Liège, also known as “La Doyenne,” is the oldest of the five Monuments of professional cycling, organized by Amaury Sport Organisation.

Taking place in the Ardennes, it features numerous short, steep climbs, testing riders’ endurance and tactics. Belgium holds the most victories, with Eddy Merckx being the record-holder with five wins. The race’s rich history and challenging course make it an esteemed event in the cycling community.

#10 Milan-San Remo

  • 📍 Location: Italy
  • 📅 Established: 1907
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: Professional teams

Milan-San Remo, nicknamed “La Classicissima,” is the longest one-day race in professional cycling, organized by RCS Sport.

The race covers around 300 kilometers from Milan to San Remo, with a thrilling finale often decided on the Poggio climb. Eddy Merckx holds the record for most victories, with seven wins. It is the first Monument of the year and is known for attracting top sprinters and classics specialists.

#11 Strade Bianche

  • 📍 Location: Italy
  • 📅 Established: 2007
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: Professional teams

Strade Bianche, organized by RCS Sport, is a relatively new one-day race, gaining prestige in a short time due to its unique route featuring unpaved white gravel roads (strade bianche) in Tuscany.

With a demanding and picturesque course, it has rapidly become a fan favorite. The race attracts a mix of classics specialists, climbers, and puncheurs. Three-time winner Fabian Cancellara holds the record for most victories.

#12 Paris-Nice

  • 📍 Location: France
  • 📅 Established: 1933
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: Professional teams

Paris-Nice, known as the “Race to the Sun,” is a week-long stage race organized by Amaury Sport Organisation. Starting near Paris and finishing on the Côte d’Azur, it attracts top talent in preparation for the spring classics and Grand Tours.

The race typically includes varied stages, ranging from flat sprints to mountainous terrain and time trials. Sean Kelly is the record-holder for most victories with seven wins.

#13 Tour de Suisse

  • 📍 Location: Switzerland
  • 📅 Established: 1933
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: Professional teams

The Tour de Suisse is a prestigious nine-day stage race held in Switzerland and organized by Infront Sports & Media. Often considered a stepping stone for the Tour de France, it serves as a vital preparation race for many riders.

The race showcases Switzerland’s stunning landscapes, featuring a mix of flat stages, mountain climbs, and time trials. Pasquale Fornara holds the record for most victories with four wins.

#14 Critérium du Dauphiné

  • 📍 Location: France
  • 📅 Established: 1947
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: Professional teams

The Critérium du Dauphiné, organized by Amaury Sport Organisation, is a significant one-week stage race in France’s Dauphiné region. Often serving as a vital warm-up race for the Tour de France, it showcases riders’ form ahead of the Grand Tour.

Known for its challenging climbs and varied stages, it attracts the cycling world’s top contenders. Five-time winner Chris Froome currently shares the victory record with French cyclist Bernard Hinault.

#15 Gent-Wevelgem

  • 📍 Location: Belgium
  • 📅 Established: 1934
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: Professional teams

Gent-Wevelgem, organized by Flanders Classics, is an esteemed one-day race in Belgium, known for its challenging combination of cobbled climbs and windy, flat sections.

The race holds a prominent position in the Flemish cycling calendar and attracts top classics specialists and sprinters. Belgium’s Robert Van Eenaeme and Rik Van Looy share the record for most wins, each with three titles.

#16 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

  • 📍 Location: Belgium
  • 📅 Established: 1945
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: Professional teams

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, formerly known as Omloop Het Volk, is the traditional opening race of the Belgian classics season, organized by Flanders Classics. The one-day race features iconic cobbled sections and short climbs typical of Belgian racing.

Known for launching the spring classics campaign, it showcases early-season form for both sprinters and classics specialists. Belgian rider Ernest Sterckx holds the victory record with three titles.

#17 E3 Harelbeke

  • 📍 Location: Belgium
  • 📅 Established: 1958
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: Professional teams

E3 Harelbeke, organized by KSV Waregem, is a prestigious one-day race in Belgium, featuring a challenging route with numerous short, steep climbs and cobbled sections.

Often viewed as a mini Tour of Flanders, it serves as an important preparation event for the spring classics. Belgian icon Tom Boonen holds the victory record, with five wins, showcasing his classics prowess and strength in the race.

#18 Tour of California

  • 📍 Location: United States
  • 📅 Established: 2006
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: Professional teams

The Tour of California, Is the United States’s premier stage race, showcasing the diverse landscapes of California over eight days.

Although discontinued since 2020, it attracted top-tier talents and served as a vital preparation race for European riders ahead of the summer calendar. Its short but impactful history included notable wins by stars like Peter Sagan and Julian Alaphilippe.

#19 Tour Down Under

  • 📍 Location: Australia
  • 📅 Established: 1999
  • 🔄 Held: Annually
  • 👥 Teams: Professional teams

The Tour Down Under is Australia’s most significant stage race and the first UCI WorldTour event of the season. Held in January, it marks the beginning of the international professional cycling calendar.

Organized by Events South Australia, the race covers diverse terrain in South Australia’s beautiful landscapes, attracting top riders from around the world. Australian cyclist Simon Gerrans holds the victory record with four titles.

Cycling

FAQ

What is the most important cycling tournament?

The Tour de France is the most prestigious and iconic race in professional cycling.

What is the oldest cycling tournament?

Liège-Bastogne-Liège, established in 1892, is the oldest professional cycling race.

What is the hardest cycling tournament to win?

The Tour de France, with its grueling 21 stages covering roughly 3,500 kilometers, is often considered the hardest cycling tournament to win.

Max is a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. He founded & runs stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton and Mini Golf (competed on national level in Germany), started learning ‘real’ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments