The E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem are both important races in their own right, but are also key in that they each provide a different kind of tune-up for the Queen of the Classics, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, or Tour of Flanders.
With 213km to cover, and 17 'hellingen', the E3 Harelbeke is more similar to the Tour of Flanders in that the clot of steep ascents comes closer to the finish and provides a more selective course. Gent-Wevelgem, by contrast, has 10 climbs, but at 238km in length it swings the balance in favour of the tougher sprinters.
Milan-San Remo winner John Degenkolb (Giant-Alepcin), winner of last year's Gent-Wevelgem, comes into the race with vastly different fortunes than the E3 Prijs defending champion Peter Sagan (Tinoff-Saxo), who has but one victory under his belt so far this season. Sagan will be on fighting form for both races, and eager to please team owner Oleg Tinkov and boost his confidence with a victory in one of the two races.
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