E3 Harelbeke is celebrating its 60th edition. Record holder won the classic 5 times in his career (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2012). Last year, Michal Kwiatkowski was the best in the dress rehearsal for the Tour of Flanders. Belgian Tom Boonen holds the record of victories, trailed by cycling icon Rik Van Looy who won four times.
Named after the former E3 motorway in Belgium, this anniversary edition will be held on Friday, March 24th, nine days before the Tour of Flanders, and covering many of the same cobbled climbs. They now have a focus on a little boy jumping already fully able to start. "We chose our banner this time the image of a baby wearing a blue diaper with the E3 Harelbeke title. On his body are numerous tattoos including those with the inscriptions" Mommy's Rebel 'and' not papcoureurs. "For whom the E3 Harelbeke win is not easy rider. After the problems with an earlier banner I think this time we have chosen a cute thing, "laughed spokesman Jacques Coussens.
First raced in 1958, it is one of the more recently founded one-day classics, but has developed into a highly prestigious and desirable event. It is on the UCI World Tour calendar, as the competition's first cobbled classic of the season.
The Belgian organization gave out seven wildcards. Besides Roompot-Dutch Lottery also received an invitation were Wanty-Groupe Gobert, Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise, Gazprom RusVelo, Direct Energy, WB Classic Vera AquaProtect and Verandas Willems-Crelan.
The Flemish race party begins with the Katteberg, a ‘helling’ that’s crested after 30 kilometres of racing. The following 63 kilometres bring two cobbled sectors but no climbs. We are just getting warmed up before the route takes in La Houpe, Oude Kruisberg, Knokteberg, Hotondberg, Kortekeer, Taaienberg, Boigneberg, Eikenberg, Stationberg, Kapelberg, Paterberg, Oude Kwaremont, Karnemelkbeekstraat, and, finally, the Tiegemberg.
All the climbs are taken on the trot, mostly being not more than 5 kilometres apart. The longest distance is from the penultimate climb, Karnemelkbeekstraat, to the last one, Tiegemberg – 11.1 kilometres. After cresting the Tiegemberg 18.5 kilometres remain.
In the 2016-edition Peter Sagan and Michal Kwiatkowski attacked at the underestimated Karnemelkbeekstraat. They held off the chasing peloton and in doing so Sagan spent too much energy. In arrival place Harelbeke, the World Champion was outsprinted by Kwiatkowski.
"With the exception of a few details, this year's race is similar to that of 2016," said race director Philippe Vermeeren. "The first ascent of the day, the Katteberg, is placed after only 30 kilometers of racing. After the second, La Houppe, the coasts will soon succeed each other. The final will be tight. "
The course also offers 16 kilometers of cobblestones. "The last time, we wanted to limit the number of kilometers to 200. This time we are at 206.1. We want to keep the tension. "The successor to Polish Michal Kwiatkowski, who won last year ahead of Peter Sagan and Ian Stannard, could be seen coming out of that coast.
The 2017 E3 Harelbeke starts at 12:21 and the finish is expected around 17:10, both local times.