Julian Alaphilippe will make his first appearance at the prestigious one-day race.
Seen by many as the perfect dress rehearsal for De Ronde van Vlaanderen, the E3 Saxo Classic features a total of seventeen hills – including the Taaienberg, Eikenberg, Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont – and presents plenty of opportunities for the attackers to try to make the difference and split the peloton. At the same time, a chance – albeit, a slim one – for a regrouping to happen is possible, given that Tiegemberg, the last hurdle of the day, comes twenty kilometers from the finish.
Winner of the race in 2021, when after spending around 50 kilometers alone at the front he still had enough left for an all-or-nothing attack just minutes after he got caught, Kasper Asgreen will be part of a strong Soudal Quick-Step that won’t be short of options Friday.
The powerful Dane will be joined on the start line by Julian Alaphilippe – the two-time World Champion making his debut in Harelbeke – Davide Ballerini, Tim Declercq, Yves Lampaert, a top 3 finisher at the rain-hit Classic Brugge-De Panne, French Champion Florian Sénéchal and Jannik Steimle.
“Friday brings one of the hardest one-day races of the season and a good repetition for Flanders. Our team is a solid one, with a former winner in Kasper, Yves – who had a strong showing recently – and Julian, who we are excited to see back on the cobbles. There’s a strong field at the start and we expect some difficult weather conditions, but we don’t lack the confidence or motivation, and we hope to be present in the key moments of the race”, said sports director Tom Steels.
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