Lotto-Soudal rider Philippe Gilbert explained that it is riders who cope with the pain who are most likely to triumph in the Classics.
The 38-year-old Belgian rider has struggled with knee problems of late, but has a strong record in Classics and other one-day events, with 26 wins to his name.
He has triumphed in four of cycling's prestigious monuments - Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Il Lombardia (twice) - with Milan-San Remo the only one outstanding on his palmares, making him one of the most experienced riders on the circuit.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2021 - Men’s race LIVE
Gilbert explained to Eurosport's Cycling Show what is needed to succeed, and he pointed to simple hard work and determination as the bedrock of being able to compete.
“You have to train your body doing the long rides, the six-seven hour rides, if you want to play a role in the final 10 minutes of the big Classics,” he said.
You can't train four or five hours and one day ask your body to ride seven hours.
“It can be peaks of 10 seconds, peaks of one minute, peaks of 20 minutes. You have to mix everything good in Classics, you have to be good in different zones.
Gilbert - Huge blow to see Paris-Roubaix cancelled... but at least now I can defend my title
“And also do the effort stuff for six hours. If you just do the easy stuff then 90 per cent of people will be able to do it but big efforts at the end of is a different story, so you have to train this, and if you do that, you’re going to be there in the final.”
He then said that the rider who can put up with the agony of exertion in the final moments of the events is the best prepared to claim ultimate victory.
“It’s all about the pain in the final of the Classics, because the guy who wins is the guy who is able to go the deepest in the pain," he said.
“Sometimes you have to go back in there and get these feelings in training, and then on the day of the race you remember all this.
“So if you can hold all the pain a bit longer than the rest then it can make all the difference.”
- - -
Watch episode four of the Cycling Show on Eurosport Player now.
Milano - Sanremo
‘All about the pain’ - Gilbert on what it takes to win a Classic
GP La Marseillaise: Road cycling returns to Europe, so what can we expect?