After a winter break and some racing for those in the southern hemisphere, the European and US racing circuits get back into the swing of things during February. By the end of the month it's time for the classics [and the pain] to begin in Belgium as the season begins to take shape. Les Clarke takes a look at the racing highlights of February.
In France the season opens with GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise on January 31, followed the next day by Etoile de Bessèges, held from February 1-5. This normally attracts the cream of French cycling - riders such as Christophe Moreau, Patrice Halgand, Jean-Patrick Nazon and Sylvain Chavanel make the trip to open proceedings for the year, with last year's race won by La Française des Jeux's Freddy Bichot. Against the likes of Tom Steels, Jens Voigt and veteran Jaan Kirsipuu, a win is very sought after. Look for young pros out to make a name for themselves early in the season to remind the old hands they'll have to be on top of their game during the year.