Formerly known as the tongue-twister that was E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke, this year’s E3 Harelbeke is the 55th edition – but the first as a WorldTour event. This – and Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem – is seen as a warm-up event for the brutality of the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) and Paris-Roubaix later in the month.
Defending champion Fabian Cancellara will be back to defend the title he won with a dramatic solo ride last year.
After Paris-Nice’s queen stage today (Thursday), we’re more than mid-way through the Race to the Sun. Sky’s Bradley Wiggins has a firm grip on the leader’s jersey which he assumed at the end of stage two, due partly to his excellent result in the previous day’s time trial but also to his and his team’s astute riding. It was on this stage that a large number of GC contenders saw their chances literally blown away by the fierce crosswinds which provoked large gaps in the peloton. Indeed, after only two days of racing the most likely contenders for the overall numbered four: Wiggins, the stealth-like Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), BMC’s young gun-slinger Tejay Van Garderen and Alejandro – watch out he’s back and he’s behind you – Valverde (Movistar).