It was a bright, sunny day for a Good Friday E3 Harelbeke and the race kept us guessing until the last hundred metres. In the end, it was a duel between the world champions: last year’s world champion Michal Kwiatkowski and current rainbow jersey wearer Peter Sagan, with KwiatKrush leaving the Slovakian almost at a standstill 250m from the finish to take a solo win. Sky teammate Ian Stannard completes the podium.
Rider of the Race
It was magnificent seeing Michal Kwiatkowski take such a gutsy win after dropping Peter Sagan 250m from the finish. Having been touted as more of an Ardennes rider, I love the fact that he’s taking on the cobbles and the bergs and getting the better of them. This sets up a very interesting scenario for next week’s Flanders – with Alexander Kristoff seeming to be under the weather (one of today’s favourites, he was never in the thick of it and finished 53rd), KwiatKrush could bring a monument back to the Death Star for all to admire.
Today, however, the rider of the race for a lot of people (and definitely for me) was Fabian Cancellara. A very select group of classics strong men, including Cancellara, Etixx’s Tom Boonen, Zdenek Stybar, Nikki Terpstra, Jumbobee Sep Vanmarcke and Astana’s Lars Boom, took on the Taaienberg and looked like it might very well be the incubator for the final podium. Cancellara had a mechanical just after they left the climb and waited what seemed an age for assistance.
It looked like that would be Spartacus’s race done but he (finally) got a new bike and then decided that the only thing stopping him from bridging to the enlarged lead group (which by this time included KwiatKrush and Sagan, as well as two more Etixx riders, including the human basking shark, Tony Martin) was his own determination. With over a minute down, it looked like a Sisyphean feat but, hot damn, with 38km to go, he bridges to the lead group to ultimately come in 4th, just missing the podium (and without a single Etixx rider in the top 10). It’s definitely going to be an interesting Flanders!
1 Michal Kwaitkowski (Sky) 4:55:18
2 Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) +0.03
3 Ian Stannard (Sky) +0.11
4 Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) s/t
5 Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) s/t
6 Lars Boom (Astana) s/t
7 Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) s/t
8 Sep Vanmarcke (Lotto NL-Jumbo) s/t
9 Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC)
10 Daniel Oss (BMC)
For a full race review, go to cyclingnews