Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) will ride Gent-Wevelgem this year for the first time since it moved to its current slot on the calendar, one week before the Tour of Flanders. In the past two seasons, Cancellara has opted to ride the preceding day’s E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke and forgo Gent-Wevelgem as he fine-tuned his preparation for the Ronde.
Following the elevation of the E3 Prijs to WorldTour level for 2012, however, the race has been brought forward to the Friday before Gent-Wevelgem, making the idea of lining up in both races more palatable. The E3 Prijs takes place on March 23, with Gent-Wevelgem following two days later.
“In the past, Fabian has preferred E3,” RadioShack-Nissan directeur sportif Dirk Demol told Sporza. “But now that race has been moved to the Friday, he can ride both of them.”
Cancellara took his second consecutive victory at Harelbeke with a lengthy solo break last year, although a number of his key Flanders rivals, including Tom Boonen, had opted to skip the race in order to focus their energies on the following day’s Gent-Wevelgem.
The change to Harelbeke’s status and its new position on the calendar should thus ensure that all of the main contenders for the Tour of Flanders rub shoulders with one another the week before the big event, although the fall in the Three Days of De Panne’s stock as a final tune-up continues unabated.
“Dwars Door Vlaanderen and the Three Days of De Panne aren’t on his programme,” Demol said. “That would be too much of a good thing.”