Thomas solos away from Stybar to win E3 Harelbeke

Cancellara, Van Avermaet among victims of falls

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) won E3 Harelbeke on Friday after attacking fellow leaders Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) with four kilometres to go and soloing across the line of the Belgian cobbled classic. Stybar held on for second, while Sagan faded in the end and was passed by the chasing peloton. Matteo Trentin (Etixx-Quickstep) won the sprint for the final podium place.

The trio escaped from the field on the Oude Kwaremont with 41km left to race, and despite a concerted chase from BMC behind, they worked well together to stay clear. An attack was inevitable in the finale, but Thomas said he chose to go earlier than might have been expected to preempt the hostilities. The three-time world champion and dual Olympic gold medalist in the team pursuit couldn't have picked a better distance to suit his abilities.

“It was hard out there. The three of us worked well together and I wasn’t sure if they were bluffing a bit near the end – panting and pulling faces – but fortunately they weren’t, and it was great for me.

"I imagined I was following Ed Clancy's wheel," Thomas joked of his Olympic track teammate. "These six weeks from Paris-Nice and Paris-Roubaix were the big hit for me. Paris-Nice was really disappointing, I was close last week and to get the win now is really great."

How it unfolded

Due to road works in Harelbeke the start area moved out of the city centre to the Forestier football stadium outside the centre. The most notable name to miss out at the start was Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida), due to a fever and viral gastrointestinal problems. On the start podium Peter Sagan (Cannondale-Garmin) was awarded his weight in beer because of his win from last year.

Before hitting the first climbs six riders created a breakaway group. After 15 kilometres Sjoerd van Ginneken (Roompot Oranje), Sean De Bie (Lotto-Soudal), Dries Devenyns (IAM), Sébastien Turgot (AG2R), Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Qhubeka) and Andrea Dal Col (Southeast) featured in front.

A massive crash was caused by an errant water bottle on the cobbles of the Haaghoek after 40km, taking down Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), Sebastian Langeveld (Cannondale-Garmin), and Robert Wagner (Lotto.NL-Jumbo) among many others. Although Lars Boom (Astana) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) were down but quickly got back on their bikes.

The gap started coming down as the peloton was increasing its speed over the climbs mid-way through the race. Dal Col was dropped from the lead group, leaving only five riders in front. At the Taaienberg, the eighth climb of the day, the gap was down to five minutes. Daniel Oss (BMC), Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuickStep) and Matti Breschel led the peloton over the cobbles and created a small gap. Tiejs Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) solely closed the gap to the three leaders but a few kilometres later Katusha brought the peloton back on the four leaders. The Taaienberg didn’t result in a selection up front but several riders were distanced for good, including Grand Tour specialist Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who then dropped out of the race.

During the next 30 kilometres the peloton rolled in grouped formation over the climbs. The gap from the five breakaway riders slowly dropped back from four minutes to two minutes. At the Kapelberg the gap came down to a minute with only Devenyns, De Bie and Sbaragli surviving in front. The speed in the peloton put a huge amount of riders in trouble while heading to the two important climbs Paterberg and the Oude Kwaremont.

In front Devenyns left his last companions behind. In the peloton Sep Vanmarcke (Lotto NL-Jumbo) flew up the cobbles at high speed but he slipped away and had to drop back a few spots behind Daniel Oss, Sylvain Chavanel (IAM) and Peter Sagan. Nine riders briefly distanced the rest of the peloton, featuring Vanmarcke, Oss, Sagan, Chavanel, Degenkolb, Stybar, Paolini, Vandenbergh and Van Avermaet. There was no co-operation and a group of about 30 riders approached the Oude Kwaremont with Devenyns leading by only half a minute.

Marcus Burghardt (BMC) led the peloton over the first part of the Oude Kwaremont. The big guns finally fired when Geraint Thomas took over from Burghardt with Stybar marking his wheel. Burghardt was unable to follow with Sagan and the rest of the peloton behind the German rider. Sagan waited until halfway up the Kwaremont- to overtake Burghardt and bridge up to Stybar and Thomas. Devenyns was caught by the three classics specialists and was dropped after missing the final corner just before exiting the cobbles.

A few seconds later Vanmarcke led the peloton over the cobbles but the trio was gone. On the wide roads to Ronse the trio worked well together and created a gap of 15 seconds on a group of about twenty riders that included Degenkolb, Kristoff, Breschel, Van Avermaet, Oss, Chavanel, Stannard, Boasson Hagen and Vanmarcke who had a shoe problem.

Once the gap was up to 25 seconds BMC worked hard to close the it, having four riders in the main group. The gap briefly dropped back to 15 seconds before going back up to 45 seconds at the foot of the final climb, the Tiegemberg. A few more riders were dropped front the main group due to the pace set by BMC on the Tiegemberg with Ian Stannard being the biggest victim. The gap was down to 25 seconds.

On the small roads over the Tiegemberg Greg Van Avermaet misjudged a corner and went over the handlebars, crashing hard on his back. Paolini took over from BMC but the gap was back up to fifty seconds due to the crash from Van Avermaet.

Sagan, Stybar and Thomas worked well together, but it was the Sky rider who broke the peace first, choosing to put in his attack with full gusto with 4km left to go, into the wind, surprising the other two. Stybar kept up a valiant chase but could not close down the gap, although he was able to hold off the sprinting peloton, which Sagan was unable to do.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky5:15:00 
2Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:25 
3Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:38 
4Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha  
5Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
6Matti Breschel (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo  
7Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
8Jack Bauer (NZl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
9Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdge  
10Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
11Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team  
12Björn Leukemans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
13Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky  
14Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step  
15Marco Marcato (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
16Yoann Offredo (Fra)  
17Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar  
18Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
19Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN - Qhubeka  
20Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling  
21Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
22Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team  
23Oscar Gatto (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
24Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
25John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin  
26Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky0:00:46 
27Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:47 
28Alexander Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha0:00:57 
29Zico Waeytens (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin  
30Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo0:01:14 
31Bram Tankink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:01:17 
32Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team0:01:26 
33Luca Paolini (Ita) Team Katusha0:02:14 
34Michael Morkov (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo0:03:21 
35Yannick Martinez (Fra) Team Europcar  
36Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
37Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Team Roompot  
38Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
39Angelo Tulik (Fra) Team Europcar  
40Mickael Delage (Fra)  
41Amaury Capiot (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
42Grégory Rast (Swi) Trek Factory Racing  
43Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
44Giovanni Bernaudeau (Fra) Team Europcar  
45Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN - Qhubeka  
46Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale  
47Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
48Hayden Roulston (NZl) Trek Factory Racing  
49Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
50Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
51Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Team Europcar  
52Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek Factory Racing  
53Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
54Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
55Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team  
56Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
57Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka  
58Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
59Antoine Duchesne (Can) Team Europcar  
60Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team  
61Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
62Stijn Devolder (Bel) Trek Factory Racing  
63Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra)  
64Tyler Farrar (USA) MTN - Qhubeka  
65Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
66Mitchell Docker (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
67Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
68Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal  
69Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
70Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
71Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
72Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
73Simone Antonini (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
74Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
75Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
76Johan Van Summeren (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
77Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky  
78Wesley Kreder (Ned) Team Roompot  
79Damien Gaudin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
80Gert Steegmans (Bel) Trek Factory Racing  
81Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
82John Gadret (Fra) Movistar Team  
83Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team  
84Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling  
85Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo  
86Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky  
87Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Trek Factory Racing0:03:31 
88Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:06:44 
89Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:11:33 
90Dries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling  
91Pavel Brutt (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo  
92Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Team Katusha  
93Thomas Leezer (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
94Marco Bandiera (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
95Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo  
96Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo  
97Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team Katusha0:11:59 
98Jesse Sergent (NZl) Trek Factory Racing  
99Rafael Andriato (Bra) Southeast Pro Cycling  
100Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
101Vicente Reynes (Spa) IAM Cycling  
102Maxime Daniel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
103Youcef Reguigui (Alg) MTN - Qhubeka  
104Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
105Aleksei Tsatevich (Rus) Team Katusha  
106Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
107Stijn Steels (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
108Raymond Kreder (Ned) Team Roompot  
109Mauro Finetto (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling  
110Sjoerd Van Ginneken (Ned) Team Roompot0:13:00 
111Sander Helven (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
112Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling  
113Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
114Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing Team  
115Bert De Backer (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin  
116Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky  
117Ivar Slik (Ned) Team Roompot  
118Edward King (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
119Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
120Kristoffer Skjerping (Nor) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
121Johan Le Bon (Fra)  
122Tony Hurel (Fra) Team Europcar  
123Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale  
124Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
125Nelson Oliveira (Por) Lampre-Merida  
126Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFGiuseppe Fonzi (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling  
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Team Katusha  
DNFAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFDennis Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFAlessio Taliani (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFAlberto Nardin (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFSébastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFQuentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFLars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro Team  
DNFTiziano Dall´Antonia (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFMarco Benfatto (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFMirko Tedeschi (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling  
DNFMatt Brammeier (Irl) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNFRobert Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNFMichal Kolár (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo  
DNFNick Dougall (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNFJakub Mareczko (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling  
DNFMaarten Tjallingii (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNFRick Flens (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNFFabio Taborre (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFGatis Smukulis (Lat) Team Katusha  
DNFGert Dockx (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFTim Kerkhof (Ned) Team Roompot  
DNFIljo Keisse (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
DNFAndrea Zordan (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNFBerden De Vries (Ned) Team Roompot  
DNFVegard Breen (Nor) Lotto Soudal  
DNFKris Boeckmans (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFGerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNFImanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFElia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky  
DNFNiccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFSacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFThomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFLuka Pibernik (Slo) Lampre-Merida  
DNFMaximiliano Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida  
DNFRoger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling  
DNFJonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFAndrew Fenn (GBr) Team Sky  
DNFAdam Blythe (GBr) Orica GreenEdge  
DNFJens Mouris (Ned) Orica GreenEdge  
DNFAdriano Malori (Ita) Movistar Team  
DNFNairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team  
DNFFrancisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFLeigh Howard (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
DNFAndrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team  
DNFWilliam Bonnet (Fra)  
DNFFrederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFRuslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFArman Kamyshev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFReto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling  
DNFJames Vanlandschoot (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFMichael Hepburn (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
DNFNikias Arndt (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin  
DNFAleksejs Saramotins (Lat) IAM Cycling  
DNFBrian Van Goethem (Ned) Team Roompot  
DNFAlbert Timmer (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
DNFDavid Boucher (Fra)  
DNFMurilo Antonio Fischer (Bra)  
DNFEugert Zhupa (Alb) Southeast Pro Cycling  
DNFMarc Sarreau (Fra)  
DNFFabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing  
DNFSebastian Langeveld (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
DNFAndrea Dal Col (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling  
DNSFilippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida  

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