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.
A brutal edition of E3 Saxo Classic
Two days after finishing third in Classic Brugge-De Panne, Yves Lampaert was again Soudal Quick-Step’s first man home, this time at the E3 Saxo Classic. The race came to life quite early, with more than 80 kilometers to go, when a couple of vicious accelerations on the Taaienberg fragmented the bunch.
Kasper Asgreen, Davide Ballerini, Yves Lampaert and Florian Sénéchal – who would later go on to abandon due to a crash – responded present. The Dane, a winner here two years ago, was extremely active, taking the front of the newly-formed group and pressing on, at one point even trying a probing attack that had all the big guns on his wheel. Another selection came later in the race, on the steep Paterberg, three riders going away, and it was from there that Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) sprinted to victory in Harelbeke.
“We missed some luck for a better result. There were the crashes of Davide and Florian that prevented us from doing this, there were also Julian’s stomach problems, and it was really difficult without him at the front when the race opened. It’s also true that we didn’t have the best legs. We hope for more luck on Sunday, we keep the confidence and motivation, and hope for a better performance in Gent-Wevelgem”, explained Soudal Quick-Step sports director Tom Steels.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images