E3 Harelbeke 2013

March 22, 2013, Harelbeke, Belgium, Road - WorldTour

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Daniel Benson

Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage from E3-Harelbeke.

  1. 12:58:59 CET

    Good afternoon and welcome back to Belgium for the latest instalment of Classics action with E3 Harlebeke.

  2. 13:00:21 CET

    The 211km event takes in many of the sections and climbs used in the Tour of Flanders, next week's monument but it's a WorldTour race in its own right and with Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen and Peter Sagan all on the start like this morning there's set to be fireworks.

  3. 13:01:16 CET

    15 bergs little the demanding course although as last year pointed out, a sprint win is certainly possible.


    The conditions today: cold 4 degrees but thankfully we have blue skies.

  4. 175km remaining from 211km

    13:02:25 CET

    We have 175 km left to race and after a flurry of attacks it looks as though a break has finally gone clear of the peloton.


    A bit of news from the start, and Tony Gallopin failed to make the startline, pulling out this morning due to illness.

  5. 13:04:58 CET

    As we gather the riders in the break, which was initiated by a Movistar rider, here's a startline gallery from earlier this morning.


    We've covered 42km in the first hour of racing.

  6. 13:05:55 CET

    • Movistar Team's 2012 Jersey

    Eloy Teruel is the lone leader at the moment but he's about to be joined by a chasing group of riders.

  7. 13:09:35 CET

    Our race leaders are Eloy Teruel (Movistar) Anders Lund (Saxo Bank), Wouter Mol (Vacansoleil), Ruslan Tleubayev (Astana), Koen Barbe (Crelan – Euphony) and Staf Scheirlinckx (Accent Jobs – Wanty), and they currently hold an advantage of 25 seconds over the peloton.

  8. 13:12:39 CET

    Last night we popped into the Movistar hotel in Gent and had a look through Alex Dowsett's suitcase. Here's the resulting video.


    If you'd like us to go snooping around another rider's belongings, let us know here and we'll do our best.

  9. 13:13:29 CET

    At the start this morning Jane Aubrey spoke to Mat Hayman:

    I’m not too bad. We’ll have to wait and see how I’ve recovered from Wednesday. We’ve strengthened the team here today with Edvald and Bernie so hopefully we’re in for a good one.
    Traditionally it’s been a bit of a precursor to Flanders and everybody’s out to test themselves, test the opposition, test equipment but we saw last year that it still came down to a fairly big group and in a sprint like that, Bernie was third last year and I think there’s a few guys who have got some better form than that so anything short of the podium and we’d be disappointed.


  10. 167km remaining from 211km

    13:16:35 CET

    167km left in the race and the break are being held at 30 seconds. It's an interesting mix up the road with Lund, Mol and Scheirlinckx the most experienced on this terrain.

    Scheirlinckx, 34, has finished in the top ten in the Tour of Flanders before too, while Mol was on the attack a few days ago in Dwars Door Vlaanderen.

  11. 13:17:20 CET

    Liquigas, Sky, RadioShack, Omega and BMC have all let this move go though, so they'll all have to work later in the stage in a bid to reel the move back in.

  12. 13:18:41 CET

    A correction: It's Stefan van Dijck in the break and not Scheirlinckx. So our leaders are,

    Eloy Teruel (Movistar) Anders Lund (Saxo Bank), Wouter Mol (Vacansoleil), Ruslan Tleubayev (Astana), Koen Barbe (Crelan – Euphony) and Stefan van Dijck (Accent Jobs – Wanty)

  13. 13:22:07 CET

    The Leberg with a maximum gradient of 15 per cent is the first climb in today's race. It comes after 15 kilometres and it's highly likely that we'll see several counter attacks due to the break being only 30 seconds ahead.


    If a few of the WorldTour teams can take advantage and slip riders up the road it will change the dynamic of the chase later on in the race.

  14. 13:23:04 CET

    Van Avermaet:

    I’m good. I have a little bit of a sore throat from San Remo for the other things my legs are still good and I have a good feeling so hopefully I can be good in the final today.
    It would be nice if we could get a guy on the podium and even nicer to get the win because we have a strong team and guys in good form. We’re just missing the win in the classics and we’ve had a good start to the season with the team and hopefully we can do the same in the classics now... asIt would be good to go into Flanders with a victory.
    We just try to do our best... the win will come we don’t have to be worried about it. If everybody’s performing well, the victory will come.
    I think it’s a bit different today; last year was a bit strange. Today there’s a lot of wind and cold so there won’t be a bunch sprint.


  15. 13:26:47 CET

    The leaders are on the approach to the Leberg, which is 850m in length. They've extended their advantage out to 40 seconds.

  16. 13:31:07 CET

    Keukeleire :

    The big boys are going to wait for the real final – the Kwaremont and I hope smaller groups are going to go in front of that section and I hope me or Sebastian will be in there. If we survive that final section in the first group, anything can happen I think.


  17. 155km remaining from 211km

    13:35:29 CET

    • Climb

    Over the top of the climb and the lead has pushed out to 1:05 the biggest it's been so far in the race.


    The leaders are struggling to press home their advantage at the moment.

  18. 13:38:36 CET

    Tom Boonen, a five time winner of this race, took to the startline with the usual Belgian fanfare this morning. After abandoning Milan-San Remo due to the conditions no one is sure where the Belgian stands in terms for form so today is bigger day for him than it is for Cancellara and Sagan who already proved their condition at Milan-San Remo with second and third.


    Boonen has a top team at his disposal but this time last year he went on an incredible run that included E3, Gent-Wevelgem, Flanders and Roubaix.

  19. 13:40:32 CET


    Boonen is ready. The results he put down last year were a once in a lifetime run. We're not so stupid in thinking that we can repeat this but what's  important is that Tom is ready in the head.

    Chavanel has a free role. He's the leader in the WorldTour and we'll look to defend that.

  20. 141km remaining from 211km

    13:49:54 CET

    The leaders, meanwhile, have pushed the time gap up to 2 minutes. The next climb is at 98km, the oude Steenweg.

  21. 13:54:34 CET

    Last night Cyclingnews' Belgian correspondent Brecht Decaluwe called up Classics legend Roger De Vlaeminck. Here's what the former pro had to say

    "I expect Cancellara, Sagan and Boonen for the podium on Friday and Sunday. For Boonen to win I think that the E3-Harelbeke and - Gent-Wevelgem are coming too soon. He’ll need more races. It would be good if he did the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde. He’ll be ready for Roubaix. It’s the moment for men like Van Avermaet and Roelandts to get a breakthrough win."

    Legendary Belgian cyclist Roger De Vlaeminck, winner of 22 stages and thrice the points classification winner at the Giro d'Italia, makes an appearance at this year's edition.

  22. 13:58:03 CET

    Sep Vanmarcke started today's race, his first venture back since crashing out of Tirenno. Cyclingnews spoke to him last night at length about anti-doping, Gilbert's alleged cortisone injections at Lotto, and the Classics. You can read the interview here.

  23. 13:58:55 CET

    His teammate, Mark Renshaw also sat down with Cyclingnews. The Australian is also racing today but should feature more in Gent-Wevelgem.

  24. 14:03:58 CET

    Peter Sagan:

    “I feel very good. I’m going the way I wanted to go. I’m in good condition and we’ll see how the races go in Belgium. I don’t know if it will be a sprint, we’ll see how it goes. QuickStep and Sky will be the favourites but there are other strong teams here too.”


  25. 14:06:06 CET

    It's interesting that Sagan mentions Sky. The British team have looked strong this spring, fresh from their classics training camp at altitude. Hayman, Thomas, Stannard, all look in form while there's still time for Boasson Hagen to pick up too. However the team probably lack a star leader in the same league as Cancellara, Boonen and Sagan. That status could all change today if one of their riders come away with the win.

    It won't be E3 though.

  26. 14:06:53 CET


    “Will it be a bunch sprint again? Well, I think Harelbeke is a hard race, very difficult and a small group can finish in front. So let’s hope I’m up there.

    “The two favourites are definitely Cancellara and Sagan. They’re the two strongest and they showed at San Remo that they had a bit more than the rest. Then, there are riders like Boonen and Paolini – a lot of rivals.”


  27. 14:10:37 CET

    Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) was not especially effusive with Belgian television at the start, although he was smiling throughout.

    Reporter: Is the “Machine” working again?
    Chavanel: I’ll tell you later on. Nah, I’m ready.
    Reporter: What’s the QuickStep tactic?
    Chavanel: To win the race.
    Reporter: Does being world number one change much?
    Chavanel: Nah, that doesn’t change much. I’ve got a race to do today, I’m thinking about that.

  28. 126km remaining from 211km

    14:14:05 CET

    The break continue to extend their advantage and now lead by 3'05.

  29. 14:22:54 CET

    The climbs left today:


    oude Steenweg 98km
    La Houppe 118km
    Berg Stene 130km
    Boigneberg 135km
    Eikenberg 141km
    Stationsberg 145km
    Taaienberg 149km
    Berg ten Houste 152km
    Kanarieberg 157km
    Kapelberg 168km
    Paterberg 172km
    Kwaremont 175km
    Knokteberg 184km
    Tiegemberg 196km

  30. 14:30:08 CET

    The leaders are approaching the second climb of the race, still with their 3'05 advantage over the field.

  31. 14:37:23 CET

    The call has come over the radio and Omega Pharma Quick Step have come to the front of the peloton. Their plan from the start was to try and isolate the likes of Cancellara and Sagan from their teams and then try and push home a numerical advantage in the finale. Nice plan if they can pull it off, but Sagan and Cancellara were so strong in San Remo it's going to be a huge task to make any numerical advantage stick.

  32. 108km remaining from 211km

    14:43:14 CET

    Over the second climb and the lead is still at three minutes however with the peloton approaching the feedzone it could go out a little bit further.

  33. 14:46:02 CET

    We've not mentioned BMC yet today but today could define the rest of their classics campaign.

    Gilbert, Hushovd and Van Avermaet have been granted team leadership roles but Taylor Phinney is allowed to ride his own race. If the American can pull out another ride, like the one that put his more experienced teammates in the shade, he could lead at Paris-Roubaix in a few weeks time.

  34. 14:50:23 CET

    Lund currently leads the break as they head towards La Houppe. Nick Nuyens has pulled out of the race meanwhile, the Garmin rider still suffering with longstanding injury issues.

  35. 14:52:19 CET

    Sky are moving up towards the head of affairs as well, with Eisel and Boassan Hagen their men if the race comes down to a sprint.

  36. 14:55:26 CET

    In the peloton Dowsett is looking after his sprinter Rojas as Gilbert rides mid-bunch with a gaggle of BMC riders around him.

  37. 117km remaining from 211km

    14:59:44 CET

    Quicktstep continue to do the grunt work at the head of the peloton with Sky's plugging a few gaps in the Belgian train with their own men. The break's lead has been cut back to 2'16.

  38. 15:06:38 CET

    The rain is holding off, the roads are dry but there's a bit of cross winds out there as a number of riders in the bunch begin to shed their extra layers of clothing.

  39. 15:07:37 CET

    Maxim Iglinskiy who has made the podium in this race, and who looked strong in Dwars door Vlaanderen is near the front. Could he pull of a coup and win a cobbled race for Astana?

  40. 15:08:53 CET

    Boonen looks relaxed, dancing out of the saddle in the middle of the peloton. The five time winner of the race has the strongest team in the race to support him.

  41. 15:11:49 CET

    Breschel and Vanmarcke are both near the front of the bunch too. Both have flown under the radar this year due to injury and illness so today's a major test for them ahead of Flanders.

    Vansummeren and Rosseler are muscling their way to the front as well. Positioning going into the climbs is so crucial and the bergs come thick and fast from this point onwards.

  42. 15:13:30 CET

    Mol currently leads the break but their advantage has dropped further still, it's down to 1'41 with 84km to go in the race.

  43. 15:16:00 CET

    Gabriel Rasch and Mat Hayman have moved into the omega train on the front of the peloton as Farrar also moves closer to the action.

  44. 15:17:21 CET

    The leaders begin the Beg Stene, which has an average gradient of 7.3km.

  45. 15:21:42 CET

    Terpstra has a bike change and is quickly on the move again as he chases back through the team cars.

  46. 15:23:08 CET

    there's a crash with Puccio and Rojas looking for bike changes. Devolder too.

  47. 15:24:53 CET

    Quickstep increased the pace coming into a tight left hander and there simply wasn't enough road for the entire bunch to come through safely.

    FDJ have decided to come to the front of the peloton and join Omega and Sky in setting the pace as the lead to the break drops down to 52 seconds.

  48. 15:25:39 CET

    The leaders tackle the Boigneberg the peloton already have them in their sights.

  49. 15:27:07 CET

    Tleubayev blows completely on the climb and begins losing ground as Eisel moves to the front for the first time, Chavanel on his rear wheel.

    At the back of the bunch there's another hold up with riders coming to a complete stop.

  50. 15:27:48 CET

    Two FDJ riders seem to have had a problem and have been dropped as a result.

  51. 15:29:02 CET

    Stijn Vandenbergh, Michal Kwiatkowski and then Tom Boonen head the peloton as they crest the climb and start the descent towards the Eikenberg.

  52. 15:33:05 CET

    The leaders hit the Eikenburg with a 37 second lead. Michal Kwiatkowski takes over on the front of the bunch and there's no sign of Cannondale but Sagan is in there, don't worry.

  53. 15:35:41 CET

    Vacansoleil, despite a man in the break move to the front and the peloton is starting to fragment on the climb due to all the pressure.

  54. 15:37:39 CET

    Omega look in shock as a Movistar rider pops up and sets the pace for them at the front. It doesnt last long as Eisel takes over for Sky, Hayman right there with him. It's clear that Hagen is their man if it comes down to the sprint.

  55. 68km remaining from 211km

    15:40:04 CET

    Three riders are left in the front but the game is almost up despite one last turn from Lund. Ladagnous has attacked from the bunch and is about to make contact with the remnants of the break.

  56. 15:41:12 CET

    Teruel, who started the move, sets the pace for the leaders as BMC show their faces on the front for the first time in the race. Reports were that Gilbert has abandoned earlier, but they weren't true, the world champion is right in the action.

  57. 15:41:39 CET

    Now we have four leaders but the gaps is less than 10 seconds.

  58. 15:44:00 CET

    Terpstra is still chasing at the back of the peloton after his bike change and Hushovd has been dropped.

  59. 15:44:44 CET

    The BMC leader is with Gaudin but it's unlikely they'll get back to the peloton at this stage, as the break is caught with 65km to go.

  60. 15:45:25 CET

    Sagan and several teammates are around half-way back in the 60-strong peloton at the moment.

  61. 15:46:32 CET

    And now Sky show their hand, moving their entire team to the front of the bunch, the slowing in pace is enough for Hushovd to come back to the bunch but he needs to move right up to the front before the next climb, otherwise he'll have to chase on all over again.

  62. 15:47:18 CET

    Eisel has the entire peloton strung out.

  63. 15:48:09 CET

    Boonen hammers to the front on the Taaienberg as always expected.

  64. 15:49:22 CET

    Roetlands is with him for company simply because he already had a little gap but Sky have been blown away. Cancellara is leading a small chase group that includes Hayman and Stybar.

  65. 15:49:48 CET

    Behind, a second group led by a BMC rider are trying to  get on terms. There's no sign of Sagan though.

  66. 15:50:14 CET

    The second group is about to latch on with 60km to go.

  67. 15:51:34 CET

    Stybar, Canellara, Boonen, Oss, Vanmarcke, Roetlands, Hayman, Boassan Hagen are all  there.

  68. 15:52:38 CET

    Garmin are leading the chase behind but it's being marked by a number of Omega riders. This could be the winning move if Astana and Cannodale don't wake up.

  69. 15:54:35 CET

    Haussler tries a move but it's countered by Chavanel and Sagan.

  70. 15:55:12 CET

    Sagan is looking around for help but it's not going to come as the gap goes out to 23 seconds, so they're still within touching distance.

  71. 15:56:13 CET

    Gilbert, Boom and Langerveld are leading a chase group but Sagan is missing from that move too.

  72. 15:57:04 CET

    Gilbert is actually about to be caught by the bunch so BMC only have Oss up the road. It will be interesting to see if they chase this down because Oss is certainly a decent finisher.

  73. 15:57:22 CET

    And Sagan is changing bikes.

  74. 15:57:43 CET

    57km to go and this is turning into a tough day for the Cannondale leader.

  75. 15:58:53 CET

    Sagan goes right passed Terpstra who has been chasing for much of the race

  76. 15:59:36 CET

    Sagan is all alone though, without any teammates so he's going to have to do all the hard work on his own as the Boonen group push out to 41 seconds and Boasson Hagen has a gap too.

  77. 15:59:55 CET

    The chase group is Vandenbergh, Boom, Langeveld i Jérôme and they're 16 seconds back.

  78. 16:00:43 CET

    There's still a long way to go in the race though as Boasson Hagen is brought back. The chase group should make contact in the next few minutes, and that will give Boonen two teammates.

  79. 16:01:04 CET

    And Boom is slipping back from the chase group.

  80. 16:01:39 CET

    The two lead groups merge and hold a gap of 38 seconds.

  81. 16:02:44 CET

    Stybar moves to the front of the lead group, flanked by Hayman. As back in the bunch Van Avermaet, Devolder, Thomas and Degenkolb try to launch a counter attack.

  82. 16:04:35 CET

    So Boonen calls both of his teammates through and this is the most crucial moment in the race because it's essentially Quickstep versus whatever Canndonale and BMC have left.

  83. 16:06:03 CET

    Haussler has tried another move off the front but Devolder brings him back  this time. 50km to go and the gap is still holding at 25 seconds.

  84. 16:06:45 CET

    Sagan finds one teammate in the bunch and moves him to the front of the chase but Chavanel is doing his best to be a pest and scupper the chase.

  85. 16:08:21 CET

    Stybar looks to be struggling at the moment as Cancellara comes through and takes a turn as Cannonale find their reserves and begin a proper chase.


  86. 16:08:51 CET

    Vanmarcke has been dropped from the lead group as Boonen is now forced to take a turn on the front .

  87. 16:09:25 CET

    The lead group is down to Tom Boonen, Zdenek Stybar, Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma), Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack), Daniel Oss (BMC), Edvald Boasson Hagen, Mathew Hayman (Sky), Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol), Sebastian Langeveld (Orica Greenedge), Vincent Jerome (Europcar), Lars Boom (Blanco)

  88. 16:10:59 CET

    Boonen slips back, assessing the condition of those riders with him in the lead break. The race is finely poised at the moment but Cannondale are coming back into it thanks to their chase effort, and have reduced the gap to just 16 seconds.

  89. 16:11:35 CET

    Boom has made it back to the leaders.

  90. 16:13:01 CET

    Cannondale looked out of the picture when Sagan changed bikes but they've ridden a very smart race, letting Quickstep do all the early damage but if they can catch this group before the next climb Sagan will surely try a move to test Boonen and Cancellara.

  91. 16:13:48 CET

    45km to go and even Boonen looks to be suffering out there and the leaders hit the Kapelberg

  92. 16:14:04 CET

    The gap is just 10 seconds.

  93. 44km remaining from 211km

    16:14:32 CET

    44km to go and the catch is made.

  94. 16:16:08 CET

    The climb has caused so much damage and echelons are all over the road with the cross winds starting to pick up as well.

  95. 16:16:32 CET

    Sagan is in the lead group now but Gilbert isn't.

  96. 16:17:15 CET

    Omega still  continue to set the pace though with the lead group growing to about a dozen riders as more attempt to come across.

  97. 16:18:10 CET

    Flecha has launched a counter attack  as he attempts to make contact with the leaders.

  98. 16:18:34 CET

    Thomas is also in the lead group but Pozzato isnt.

  99. 16:19:05 CET

    Now into the Paterberg and Boonen leads.

  100. 16:20:04 CET

    Into the gutter and the 2012 winner has the leaders strung out as Cancellar comes through and takes second wheel. Sagan is holding back, is he struggling or racing like a sprinter today?

  101. 16:21:05 CET

    Amador and Flecha are fighting to get back on terms

  102. 16:21:58 CET

    The leaders come over the climb together, with Thomas at the back of the group.

  103. 16:22:58 CET

    Chavanel is coming into the frame too as Sky look good with Thomas, Hayman and Boasson Hagen in the first group that includes Langeveld, Boonen, Sagan, Cancellara and Oss.

  104. 16:24:09 CET

    And it's all starting to come back together as the pace drops in the Sky led group.

  105. 16:25:19 CET

    Onto the Kwaremont and Flecha gets out of the saddle and sets the pace.

  106. 16:26:32 CET

    And Cancellara moves to the front and winds things up with 35km to go.

  107. 16:26:47 CET

    Sagan is chasing but Cancellara has a small gap.

  108. 16:27:30 CET

    QuickStep can't allow Cancellara this much room and they set up the chase.

  109. 16:27:45 CET

    Van Avermaet, Stannard, Bole, Rojas, Iglinski, Offredo, Ventoso, Vansummeren in chase group behind the Boonen group.

  110. 16:28:10 CET

    Roetlands has popped as Cancellara continues to push on alone.

  111. 16:28:35 CET

    Boonen has been dropped.

  112. 16:28:58 CET

    Quckstep have left him and it looks like Cancellara has around 15 seconds.

  113. 16:29:20 CET

    Boonen is back with Flecha and Hayman.

  114. 16:29:46 CET

    Roetlands had a flat.

  115. 16:30:46 CET

    Cancellara still has 15 seconds as Boonen finds himself in the third group on the road.

  116. 16:31:21 CET

    Boasson Hagen who was also dropped is on his own.

  117. 16:33:03 CET

    Cancellara has extended his lead to 27 seconds.

  118. 16:34:46 CET

    Chavanel,  Sagan, Oss, Thomas, Langeveld are the chasing group behind Cancellara. Oss is riding very well indeed and if it comes to a sprint he could push Sagan close, but right now Cancellara is off the front and has 28 seconds on the chase, with 54 seconds on the Boasson Hagen, Boonen group.

  119. 16:35:37 CET

    Thomas doesnt want to work, as Boasson Hagen is chasing back.

    So Cancellara pulls out a couple more seconds.

  120. 16:36:02 CET

    These 'super teams' have cancelled each other out and Cancellara has taken advantage.

  121. 28km remaining from 211km

    16:37:05 CET

    28km to go and Cancellara has 41 seconds.

  122. 16:38:46 CET

    The second group are taking turns but Cancellara reaches the lower slopes of the Knokteberg with 47 seconds.

  123. 16:39:44 CET

    Stybar and one other Quickstep rider are coming back to the chase group of Chavanel. That could be the team's last roll of the dice.

  124. 16:40:27 CET

    Cancellara now has a minute wit 25km to go.

  125. 24km remaining from 211km

    16:44:49 CET

    Cancellara has just one climb to go and a lead of 59 seconds. The Boonen group has grown though and has brought the RadioShack leader to within 1;17. They'll soon have the Sagan, Chavanel chase group in their sights.

  126. 16:46:07 CET

    Cancellara grabs some food from the team car and then moves back into TT mode. Sagan hasn't given up the chase though and has pegged the Swiss rider back by a couple of seconds.

  127. 16:49:35 CET

    Cancellara has been in this position so many times,  he knows exactly what's needed and just doesn't panic. The gap comes down by a couple of seconds but he pushes on the pedals and the advantage moves back out to 1'03.

  128. 16:51:10 CET

    If Cancellara takes this win it's arguably better than his win in 2011 simply because all the best riders in the world are here.

  129. 17km remaining from 211km

    16:53:31 CET

    It's exhibition stuff from Cancellara at this point, and he may well even exceed his one-minute winning margin from 2011. On that occasion, Cancellara's decisive attack also came on the Kwaremont, although he still had a group ahead of him to chase down before hitting the front alone.

  130. 16km remaining from 211km

    16:54:25 CET

    Onto the final climb of the Tiegemberg for Cancellara, who shows no sign of relenting as directeur sportif Dirk Demol draws up alongside him.

  131. 16:55:05 CET

    Sagan tries to inject some life into the chase behind, but there is precious little to be done.

  132. 16:56:17 CET

    Sagan is doing the bulk of the pace-setting in the chase group on the way up the Tiegemberg. He doesn't have many allies here, but it's debatable as to whether it would many any material difference.

  133. 16:57:12 CET

    Meanwhile, a frustrated Yoann Offredo (FDJ) leads the third group, but they are 2:12 down on the flying Cancellara. Juan Antonio Flecha and Filippo Pozzato are among the beaten men in here.

  134. 13km remaining from 211km

    16:58:22 CET

    Sagan's friend and former teammate Oss is lending some weight to the pursuit, and the gap is down slightly, to 45 seconds.

  135. 12km remaining from 211km

    17:00:10 CET

    On a long, exposed road, the Sagan group can catch a glimpse of the car following Cancellara, which has lifted their morale somewhat, and the margin is still dropping slightly. 40 seconds the gap.

  136. 10km remaining from 211km

    17:01:15 CET

    Dirk Demol pulls up alongside Cancellara to protect him from the crosswind, but is quickly warned off by a commissaire. The gap seems stable now at 44 seconds.

  137. 17:02:26 CET

    Sagan is putting in longer turns than anyone else in the group of chasers, but it's hard to imagine that they will peg back Cancellara at this point.

  138. 9km remaining from 211km

    17:03:34 CET

    Sylvain Chavanel gives a dig out with the chase, but Cancellara's gap is now creeping back up towards the 50-second mark.

  139. 8km remaining from 211km

    17:04:29 CET

    Hands buried in the drops, the bill of his cap upturned and his teeth gritted, Cancellara is betraying no signs of weakness in his pedalling.

  140. 6km remaining from 211km

    17:05:36 CET

    A grimace, or perhaps a smile, as Cancellara takes on some advice from Demol in the team car.

  141. 5km remaining from 211km

    17:06:36 CET

    Into the final 5 kilometres with 58 seconds in hand on the Sagan group, Cancellara is going to hand RadioShack-Leopard a badly-needed big win.

  142. 17:07:22 CET

    IAM Cycling are leading the main peloton, but they are racing for 7th place, over 2:30 behind Cancellara.

  143. 4km remaining from 211km

    17:08:55 CET

    Crashes destroyed Cancellara's 2012 season, but the Swiss is in the process of taking his first win since the Tour de France prologue last June. And, more importantly, he is sending out an ominous message ahead of the Tour of Flanders next week.

  144. 2km remaining from 211km

    17:09:43 CET

    The chasers look as though they are already thinking about the sprint for second place behind Cancellara. 1:04 the gap.

  145. 1km remaining from 211km

    17:10:21 CET

    Into the final kilometre for Cancellara, who will have plenty of time to think of a celebration to match Peter Sagan's colourful collection.

  146. 17:11:55 CET

    Cancellara is in the streets of Harelbeke and cruising towards his third E3 win in four years.

  147. 17:12:59 CET

    Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) wins E3 Harelbeke after a 35km solo break. He sits up and punches the air in celebration.

  148. 17:13:26 CET

    Daniel Oss takes a flyer with 800 metres to go in a bid to take second place.

  149. 17:14:18 CET

    Sagan opens his sprint and looks to have overhauled Oss for second place. Geraint Thomas was also in the mix for the podium, but they came home 1:07 down.

  150. 17:14:57 CET

    Cancellara, meanwhile, is already sitting in a press tent, peeling off his armwarmers and cleaning himself up for the podium ceremonies.

  151. 17:15:37 CET

    A dejected Tom Boonen claims the bunch sprint for 7th place, over two minutes down on Cancellara.

  152. 17:20:18 CET


    1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack Leopard
    2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling 00:01:08
    3 Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team
    4 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
    5 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge
    6 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
    7 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
    8 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha
    9 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
    10 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar

  153. 17:22:42 CET

    Thanks for joining us on Cyclingnews for today's live coverage of E3 Harelbeke. We'll be back with more from Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, but before that, stay tuned to Cyclingnews for all the news from Belgium. We'll have a full report, results and pictures from E3 Harelbeke here, as well as all the reaction from a fascinating day of racing in Flanders.

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