Most prestigious one-day races

I'm interested in consensus opinion on which one-day races are most prestigious. I've compiled a short list of 10. If others would like to expand on the list they're welcome to. A top 50 would be amazing!

1: World Road Race Elite men's
2: Paris Roubaix
3: Tour of Flanders
4: Liège–Bastogne–Liège
5: Giro di Lombardia
6: Milan San Remo
7: Amstel Gold Race
8: European Championships elite mens
9: Gent-Wevelgem
10: La Fleche Wallonne
 
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We had a thread like this recently (https://forum.cyclingnews.com/threads/most-prestigious-your-favorite-one-day-races.36838/), where I wrote this which I still stand by (although I would probably move up the Canadian races in the enjoyability ranking):

Only ranking the WT-races here.

Prestige:

:beermug::beermug::beermug::beermug::beermug: Olympics, Worlds
:beermug::beermug::beermug::beermug: The monuments
:beermug::beermug::beermug: GW, Amstel, Strade, FW
:beermug::beermug: Omloop, San Sebastian, E3
:beermug: DDV, Hamburg, Bretagne, Frankfurt, Quebec, Montreal, De Panne

The Olympics is a special one to rate, because inside the cycling world it's probably not as prestigious as the monuments and Worlds, but outside the cycling world nothing comes close to Olympics. If I had to pick only one race I would win, I'd definitely take the Olympics. The Worlds has a special place and is ranked above the monuments in my opinion. The monuments aren't exactly equal in terms of prestige, but as someone else mentioned, the gap between them is too small to give them different rankings. I'd rate them as PR, Flanders, LBL, MSR and Lombardia in terms of prestige. I'm actually tempted to only give Strade two stars because of its short history, but it has quickly become both a fan and a rider favorite and the field is so strong that I think three stars is ok. I'm not too sure about the one and two star category so this is just off the top of my head.

Enjoyability:

:wineglass::wineglass::wineglass::wineglass::wineglass: Worlds, PR, Flanders, Strade
:wineglass::wineglass::wineglass::wineglass: MSR, LBL, Omloop, E3, Amstel
:wineglass::wineglass::wineglass: Olympics, DDV, Lombardia, San Sebastian
:wineglass::wineglass: Quebec, Montreal, Bretagne, GW
:wineglass: De Panne, Frankfurt, Hamburg, FW

Although Worlds is on a different course each year, and some of the races in itself admittedly aren't that great, it's still my favorite race of the season. The build up, the tension, it's just the most special race of the year. Once again I'm tempted to move Strade down one step because there's just not as much on the line as in PR, Flanders and Worlds, but it's always a magnificent race. MSR might be high up here, but I just love the slow build up before everything explodes on Poggio. The last 10 kilometres are always great. Omloop usually delivers and its place on the calendar makes it special for me. Olympics is hard to rank because of the shifting parcours, so I just kinda jammed it in there somewhere. FW I can only give one star because it's basically just a slow motion sprint, even though the last few editions have been decent.
 
Yea, it's the rainbow jersey rather than the race. I don't think a Worlds like Zolder or København has quite the same merit in terms of achievement as, say, Mendrisio or Firenze, but they pay the same prize and wearing the rainbow jersey for a year is an honour regardless of how you did it and riders with a rainbow jersey at home have every right to say, hey, I won the World Championships and I don't care whether you liked the race or not.

I rank the monuments slightly above the Worlds (but depending on parcours the Worlds can fluctuate between those), with Roubaix ranked slightly above the other monuments due to its unique characteristic. Most of the other monuments can be compared to other races on the calendar, but there's nothing quite like Roubaix. The Olympics I personally rate slightly below the Worlds owing to their short pro history, but their rarity and exclusivity with the small field does mean that you could argue that side and I would accept that interpretation.

The next level down would be the likes of Flèche Wallonne (history, the puncheur's World Championship kind of character), Gent-Wevelgem and Amstel Gold.

Then the minor classics such as San Sebastián and Strade Bianche (again, despite its youth, its relatively unique characteristic raises it up) sits alongside the support classics in major Classics country like Omloop and E3. Paris-Tours might be in this group or the one above it depending on era, as that is rapidly losing importance and identity with the attempts to shake it up.

Then the more esteemed semi-Classics and minor classics like Brabantse Pijl, Tre Valli Varesine, Giro dell'Emilia, Milano-Torino and Dwars.

Then the remaining WT-ish one-dayers like Brétagne, the Canadian races, Frankfurt, de Panne and Hamburg sitting alongside smaller semi-Classics like Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, Tour de Vendée and Giro dell'Appennino.

Then most other remaining non-Classic or semi-Classic one-day races like GP Stad Zottegem, Memorial Marco Pantani, GP Miguel Indurain, GP Bruno Beghelli.

Then the minor 1.1 races like Croatia-Slovenia, the Challenge Mallorca pre-season races, Sparkassen Münsterland Giro and their ilk.

Then the 1.2 races like the Turkish mini-calendar and elite amateur races.

Then .NE events like crits and things like that.

Then post-Tour fixed crits for show.

Then the Scheldeprijs.
 
Yea, it's the rainbow jersey rather than the race. I don't think a Worlds like Zolder or København has quite the same merit in terms of achievement as, say, Mendrisio or Firenze, but they pay the same prize and wearing the rainbow jersey for a year is an honour regardless of how you did it and riders with a rainbow jersey at home have every right to say, hey, I won the World Championships and I don't care whether you liked the race or not.

I rank the monuments slightly above the Worlds (but depending on parcours the Worlds can fluctuate between those), with Roubaix ranked slightly above the other monuments due to its unique characteristic. Most of the other monuments can be compared to other races on the calendar, but there's nothing quite like Roubaix. The Olympics I personally rate slightly below the Worlds owing to their short pro history, but their rarity and exclusivity with the small field does mean that you could argue that side and I would accept that interpretation.

The next level down would be the likes of Flèche Wallonne (history, the puncheur's World Championship kind of character), Gent-Wevelgem and Amstel Gold.

Then the minor classics such as San Sebastián and Strade Bianche (again, despite its youth, its relatively unique characteristic raises it up) sits alongside the support classics in major Classics country like Omloop and E3. Paris-Tours might be in this group or the one above it depending on era, as that is rapidly losing importance and identity with the attempts to shake it up.

Then the more esteemed semi-Classics and minor classics like Brabantse Pijl, Tre Valli Varesine, Giro dell'Emilia, Milano-Torino and Dwars.

Then the remaining WT-ish one-dayers like Brétagne, the Canadian races, Frankfurt, de Panne and Hamburg sitting alongside smaller semi-Classics like Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, Tour de Vendée and Giro dell'Appennino.

Then most other remaining non-Classic or semi-Classic one-day races like GP Stad Zottegem, Memorial Marco Pantani, GP Miguel Indurain, GP Bruno Beghelli.

Then the minor 1.1 races like Croatia-Slovenia, the Challenge Mallorca pre-season races, Sparkassen Münsterland Giro and their ilk.

Then the 1.2 races like the Turkish mini-calendar and elite amateur races.

Then .NE events like crits and things like that.

Then post-Tour fixed crits for show.

Then the Scheldeprijs.
:) Nicely done. It’s like one of those jokes with a long, circuitous buildup to a quirky punchline that is mainly funny because you realized you listened that whole time just to get to that. (Although in this case I enjoyed all the genuine content before the punchline).
 
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WC is overrated as hell if the route is bad. Yes you get to wear a jersey all year long, but the race doesn't have the same value as an iconic one day race that usually has a very similar route year after year and it's own identity. The WC lacks that and if the route or the racing isn't great it's not worth a lot.
It has improved in recent years, but how often has it been a boring race with nothing significant happening before the final obstacle of the final lap? I don't even mention the really easy once for pure sprinters, because they are glorified version of Schelde***.

Paris-Roubaix and the RVV are head and shoulders above the rest.
 
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Surprised at all the people rating the monuments on separate levels from each other. Yes, the extent to which they capture the imagination differs, but at the end of the day a monument is a monument and the difference between them seems marginal. Is there any rider who's career you would rate differently if they'd won (for example) Roubaix instead of Sanremo on account of judging the former as more prestigious?

Also surprised at the amount of people rating the Worlds below any or all of the monuments. It's the freaking World Championships, it has better fields than any monument (at least most years), and the rainbow jersey that goes with it is the biggest status symbol in the sport save perhaps for the yellow jersey.

I profoundly disagree with the most common justification for both - how epic the race is. By that logic, the Giro would be far more prestigious than the Tour over the past ten, twenty or thirty years. Yet nobody would argue that is the case. Why, then, would it be the differentiating factor between one-day races when it isn't between stage races?

Finally, two points where I can easily see the counterargument for. First, I would also say the Olympics has been elevated to the point where it's more prestigious to win in this day and age than a monument. I will always think of Van Avermaet as an Olympic champion first and a Paris-Roubaix winner second, and I think that kind of underlines the point. Moreover, an Olympic medal is a special achievement in any Olympic sport (other than football, I guess). Second, I would put the Worlds TT below the monuments. If Flèche is an unofficial world championship for puncheurs, then I think scaling the actual World Championship for an even more specific subdiscipline within the sport to that is reasonable. Can easily see why you'd put it on a separate level between the monuments and the Flèche-sized races, though.

With that, this would be my ranking for the present age. 15 years back, replace Strade with Paris-Tours and drop both Olympic races at least one level.

****Worlds and Olympics RRs
***Monuments
**Worlds and Olympics TTs plus Strade, Gent-Wevelgem, Amstel, and Flèche.
*Euros RR plus the next tier of 'regular' one-dayers - things like E3 and San Sebastian go here. Don't think all the WT ones belong here, though - stuff like the Cadel race is pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
 
I too rate monuments differently, tbh. Maybe it's because they are separate from the others and because when I grew up watching cycling, the media I looked up to (mostly my local Eurosport coverage) would talk more about the spring monuments than Lombardia, I didn't rate Gilbert's winning 2 Lombardias as highly as when he won L-B-L, for example (just talking about a rider who won both of them in my first years watching cycling).

And for me personally, LBL has going lower a lower in the most recent years in terms of prestige, as it's a race I care a little less each year, as it's been more often than not, really not enjoyable until Roche-aux-Faucons. We don't usually see the same kind of epic rides to win it as in RVV or PR, and even Nibali's MSR win, for example, while in a shorter attack, has been more daring than most of the LBL moves (not counting this year, ofc).
 
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Oct 26, 2020
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Based on CN thread post numbers for 2021 and 2022 the top 25 most prestigious men's 1-day races, as voted by you, are:

1 - Paris-Roubaix
2 - World Championships Road Race
3 - Olympics Road Race
4 - Ronde van Vlaanderen
5 - Milano-Sanremo
6 - Liège-Bastogne-Liège
7 - Il Lombardia
8 - Strade Bianche
9 - Amstel Gold Race
10 - Gent-Wevelgem
11 - E3 Saxo Bank Classic
12 - La Flèche Wallonne
13 - Clásica San Sebastián
14 - Dwars door Vlaanderen
15 - Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
16 - Brabantse Pijl
17 - Giro dell'Emilia
18 - Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne
19 - Scheldeprijs
20 - Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal
21 - Milano-Torino
22 - Tre Valli Varesine
23 - Coppa Bernocchi
24 - Grand Prix de Denain
25 - Paris-Tours

*TTs and Continental/National championships not included
 
WC, Olympics
Monuments
GW, Amstel Strade, Fleche
San Sebastian, Omloop, E3, Canadian classics
Dwars, Plouay, Paris-Tours, Emilia, Brabantse, Tre Valli, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Kuurne.
About as close as you can get. I think you can quibble over the value of the different monuments but ultimately they are all huge achievements.

Glad to see Strade along the top tier of non-monument races. Love Emilia as think it’s a super finale but can’t in all honesty place it any higher in prestige than you have done.
 
I'm sure every cycling fan would give a slightly different answer.

** *** LBL, Roubaix, Flanders, WCRR
**** Sanremo, Lombardia, Olympic RR
*** FW, AGR, GW, San Sebastian, WCITT
** Strade Bianche, Omloop, E3, Paris-Tours, Olympic ITT
Your rating pretty much matches what, when I started following cycling more closely in the late ‘80s, I thought was the consensus in the cycling world (at least from what I read in Winning and Velonews) about one-day races. There were the monuments & WCRR, with Roubaix, Flanders, and LBL a small step above the others. Then there were the “Classics”, which were your *** group plus Paris-Tours and Championships of Zurich. And then the semi-classics as you have in your ** group (plus Canadian races). Not sure I understood where ITTs fit in back then.
 
Last edited:
Based on CN thread post numbers for 2021 and 2022 the top 25 most prestigious men's 1-day races, as voted by you, are:

1 - Paris-Roubaix
2 - World Championships Road Race
3 - Olympics Road Race
4 - Ronde van Vlaanderen
5 - Milano-Sanremo
6 - Liège-Bastogne-Liège
7 - Il Lombardia
8 - Strade Bianche
9 - Amstel Gold Race
10 - Gent-Wevelgem
11 - E3 Saxo Bank Classic
12 - La Flèche Wallonne
13 - Clásica San Sebastián
14 - Dwars door Vlaanderen
15 - Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
16 - Brabantse Pijl
17 - Giro dell'Emilia
18 - Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne
19 - Scheldeprijs
20 - Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal
21 - Milano-Torino
22 - Tre Valli Varesine
23 - Coppa Bernocchi
24 - Grand Prix de Denain
25 - Paris-Tours

*TTs and Continental/National championships not included
Seems like you would need a longer string of toward to give this more validity, because if a particular race is especially exciting or controversial one year then it will get more posts regardless of status. Still, it seems pretty close to what I would expect.
 
Somehow always felt the Italian monuments were rated lower than the others. And i personally did so as well, come to think about it. In MSR's case i think it has to do with being the opening monument, and not everyone is in prime shape yet. Also it being boring for the most part, predictable, with too many winners that you wouldn't describe as "top riders". The most difficult one to win (for top riders) because it can be won by anyone.

In Lombardia's case it's probably being basically the end of season race, that 's hurting it. The big prizes have been handed out (RVV, Roubaix, Liège, Giro, Tour, Vuelta, worlds, Olympics if held...), for many of the big riders it's been a tiring season, some won't show up. Most that do, will be surfing their WCC peak. Considering no big races follow after, few will be peaking specifically for this race. I wonder if it would be better if its spot on the calendar got swapped with that of the WCC.
 
  1. Worlds; LBL; Ronde; Lombardia
  2. Roubaix; Strade; San Sebastian
  3. MSR; FW; G-W
Let me explain:

The top 4 can conceivably be contended and won also by the best GT riders of the era which gives them added respectability, imo. Lombardia is presently hurt by the riders' absences. There was a time when most if not all the great riders of the era raced, with Merckx, Gimondi, Hinault and now Pog winning.

Roubaix is a great race, but it is a specialist's race now almost exclusively. And a GT winner hasn't contended (let alone won) in how long...?

Of the "newer" races on the calendar, I love both Strade and San Sebastian -- extremely demanding and the riders often come to the finish in ones and twos or very small groups. I would love them to eventually move to 260 km and become monuments.

MSR is over-rated, a bore fest, and seems to often end in a lucky winner that others hesitated to chase down in the last km. I almost want to take it off the list entirely. F-W in its present incarnation ending in a 3 min W/kg test on Huy is also boring and over-rated. G-W is...well, G-W. No one really cares, it's always played second fiddle and will continue to do so.
 
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  1. Worlds; LBL; Ronde; Lombardia
  2. Roubaix; Strade; San Sebastian
  3. MSR; FW; G-W
Let me explain:
You can explain all you like, this is gibberish. Roubaix on the same level as San Sebastian? What fresh hell is this? What's wrong with you, were you denied the breast?

Worlds
Monuments and Olympics

Nothing else matters. Minor races are for minor people.
 
WC, Olympics
Monuments
GW, Amstel Strade, Fleche
San Sebastian, Omloop, E3, Canadian classics
Dwars, Plouay, Paris-Tours, Emilia, Brabantse, Tre Valli, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Kuurne.
I wouldnt put the Canadian classics over an old race like Paris - Tours. Even though the organisers have ruined that.

And I would personally put most of the semi-classics in Belgium, France, Italy and so on as well over the Canadian races.
 
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I wouldnt put the Canadian classics over an old race like Paris - Tours. Even though the organisers have ruined that.

And I would personally put most of the semi-classics in Belgium, France, Italy and so on as well over the Canadian races.
Which semi-classics in France?

I think Paris-Roubaix is the only French one-day race who currently ranks above the Canadian races.

Paris-Tours and Bretagne Classic could probably be in the discussion but there are no other French races who are close.
 

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