After a rain-effected Dwars door Vlaanderen, Belgium’s cold snap continued into Friday as the Classics stars gathered for the Tour of Flanders dress rehearsal, E3 Harelbeke.
The 211 kilometre race which starts and finish in the sleepy town of Harelbeke on the outskirts of Kortrijk provides riders such as Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen and Peter Sagan with the chance to fine-tune their form ahead of next week’s monument, with much of today’s course featuring in next week’s race.
Fifteen bergs feature in E3, the first of which is the Leberg at 56km. However from kilometre 120 until the final 20 kilometres, the race is peppered with some of Belgium’s toughest cobbled terrain: from the Taaienberg to the Kwaremont and Kapelberg, E3 serves as a direct form guide for Flanders, and as a WorldTour in its own right, it provides competitive racing throughout.
So while the snow and rain have finally abated – temperatures rose to a blistering 4 degrees at the start - riders edged towards the startline with a little less reluctance than they did at Milan-San Remo and Dwars door Vlaanderen.