The organisers of Belgian one-day race the E3 Saxo Bank Classic – formerly the E3 BinckBank Classic – announced on Monday that three climbs are to be added to the route for 2021, while another has been dropped. The race was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but will return in March 2021, all being well, with a new name and new climbs.
The climbs of the Kanarieberg, the Oude Kruisberg and the Eikenberg will be added to the race route, while the Hogerlucht will be dropped, according to HLN, which means that the race will feature a total of 17 climbs – or bjergs, as they're known locally.
It's a spring Classic that resembles the Tour of Flanders course of cobbles and bjergs more than most, and will take place in 2021 on Friday, March 26, just over a week before its 'big brother', Flanders, which takes place on the first Sunday in April.
The race will also change its name from the E3 BinckBank Classic – its name since 2019 – to the E3 Saxo Bank Classic due to the Dutch financial services company having been acquired last year by Danish investment bank Saxo Bank, which many fans will be familiar with as having sponsored a WorldTour team between 2008 and 2015.
The race starts and finishes in the town of Harelbeke – just outside the city of Kortrijk – and many still refer to it as the E3 Harelbeke. That 'E3' part of its name, incidentally, refers to the nearby E3 highway, which is now called the E17.
The first edition of the race was in 1958, and it's been part of the UCI's top-tier WorldTour series of races since 2012. The winner of the last edition of the race, in 2019, was Deceuninck-QuickStep's Zdenek Stybar, who will be likely to line up alongside his Classics-specialist teammates there again in March, with Patrick Lefevere's team having won seven of the past 16 editions of the race.
Tom Boonen – who rode for the team between 2003 and his retirement in 2017 – holds the record for the most number of E3 wins with five, taking victories from 2004 to 2007, and again in 2012.
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