E3 Harelbeke to be WorldTour race in 2012

Belgian race to open cobbled Classics season

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has announced that the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke race has been promoted to WorldTour status for 2012 and will be held on the Friday preceding Gent-Wevelgem.

The race covers many of the same climbs and country lanes as the Tour of Flanders and has often produced some great racing. However it has been recently overshadowed by Gent-Wevelgem, which moved to the Sunday before the Tour of Flanders and was given WorldTour status, attracting a better field as riders and teams chased UCI ranking points. Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) won the race this year with a lone attack.

The UCI has confirmed that E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke will be held on the Friday preceding the Gent-Wevelgem race and will open the season of Belgian Classics. The UCI officially unveils the 2012 race calendar during the world road race championships.

The UCI Licence Commission - with the support of the UCI Professional Cycling Council - awarded a UCI WorldTour licence to the Belgian event for a period of four years (2012 – 2015).

UCI President Pat McQuaid said in a press release: “The granting of this licence recognises the importance of this race in a region that has a strong cycling tradition. The Flanders region has a remarkable heritage and remains a landmark for cyclists around the world.”

In its press release, the UCI claimed the awarding of a WorldTour licence to E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke “confirms its determination to ensure the durability of European cycling – in parallel with its commitment to the globalisation of cycling, which takes a step forward this season with the first edition of the Tour of Beijing – within the global development of the sport.”

The Tour of Beijing is due to be held between October 5-9.

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