TRO- BRO LÉON 16 May | France | 1.Pro

One by one, the big races are discoverin­g the attraction of incorporat­ing gravel roads in their races. Strade Bianche is a recent innovation in this area; Paris-Tours has started taking incursions into the bumpy tracks between vineyards in the Loire Valley, and the Giro this year is getting in on the act. But the original modern gravel event is Tro-Bro Léon, which has been running on the ribinoù (short cut) roads of Finistère, Brittany, since 1984.

Tro-Bro Léon embodies all the contradict­ions and realities of cycling - a traditiona­l sport with traditiona­l roots which wants to live in both the past and the future. You couldn’t find a more traditiona­l event - it’s a race in France’s cycling heartland, and the best Breton rider wins a pig. Yet it’s also quintessen­tially modern - the gravel ribinoù have defined the race for 40 years, while the rest of the cycling world has caught up. But the most important thing is that it’s a great race. The backdrop of wild Breton landscape gives it an epic dimension, and with those 30km of gravel, the tactics become complex and the racing is always exciting.

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